For more information see www.secondchanceprogramme.com.au
SECOND CHANCE PROGRAMME (SCP) HAS ASSISTED 300 WOMEN WHO WOULD OTHERWISE BE HOMELESS: WE AIM TO MAKE IT 500 IN 2011 – BUT WE CANT DO IT WITHOUT YOU. PLEASE HELP US HELP HOMELESS WOMEN TO HAVE A HOME OF THEIR OWN.
It’s nearly a decade since a group of concerned individuals got together to save the Anglican Women’s Hostel for homeless women. It was one of the few – if not the only – functioning hostel in Brisbane and it provided accommodation (up to 3 months) for 13 women who had been made homeless. The women could stay up to 13 weeks at the hostel before they had to leave and find a place for themselves in the community.
Another shock to those of us who became involved was the inequity: there were more than 400 beds for homeless men.
When we took up the hostel as a cause, it seemed like a simple exercise. It was an opportunity to put something back into the community: we would ask some questions about resources for women, raise money – and save the hostel. But 10 years later – and much the wiser – we understand that there is nothing simple about solving the problem of women’s homelessness.
As well as raising money, SCP has done much to raise awareness of the horrors of homelessness – and the reality that it can confront any woman. And while more than 350 women have been assisted by SCP – the problem is still very much with us.
(88% of the women who have been assisted at BHC – have no returned to homelessness!
There are currently hundreds of homeless women in south east Queensland, and MICAH PROJECTS (at the Brisbane Homelessness Service Centre) has talked to some of them.
There are young women and older women, and mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. There are women who have been reared in foster care – almost one third of them according to MICAH figures; and there are women from the very best of homes. Yet they all have one thing in common.
They have all been traumatised by homelessness.
If you didn’t have mental health problems before you became homeless you would be lucky to avoid them after life on the streets; 69% of the women surveyed by MICAH reported treatment for mental health issues.
Likewise, good physical health is not something that goes with sleeping rough – or in emergency accommodation.
Between 10-20% of women revealed that they had significant health issues such as diabetes, heart conditions, kidney and liver problems etc. Of the 58 homeless women consulted by MICAH, 24 had visited the emergency department in the previous 3 months.
58% of women reported being attacked.
The gap between being homeless and having a home is almost too great for some of us to comprehend. To be a healthy and participating member of our society, homeless women need homes.
Not just emergency accommodation for a night – or even three months –but a home with a bed (and slippers) with a door (that locks) – and a sense of security and possibility. This is why SCP could not stop with saving the Anglican Women’s Hostel – and with financing an extra bed on the premises.
SCP has become firmly committed to bridging the gap between homelessness and a proper home. As a result more than 300 women have been accommodated in real – and very attractive – homes, with the Brisbane Housing Company.
SCP pays the difference between the required rent and the amount that women can afford.
A home is not a home without a bed, a table, a chair, a sofa, or even a fridge – many of the things that homeless women have lost and that they are not in a position to purchase.
This is why SCP is now helping to furnish apartments at the BHC.
Dignity and independence however do not always come easily for women who have suffered the privations of homelessness. Sometimes there is a need for help with life skills that have been lost in the struggle for survival on the streets.
Everything from shopping to cooking, and from job hunting to financial literacy, so that the transition to having and sustaining a home – and a tenancy – can be achieved.
Once upon a time where was an assumption that ending homelessness was about providing a roof over the heads of those who were sleeping rough.
But few people would be able to function as members of the community if all they had was a (different) bed for a night – or a week.
The essence of a home is the stability and security it can provide – it’s the foundation stone for earning, learning, living and participating in our world. It’s the base from which a woman can plan a life, build confidence, get a job – and see a future.
The goal of SCP is to provide the opportunity for more women to have homes in the forthcoming year. BUT WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO HELP US TO DO IT. See www.secondchanceprogramme.com.au