Having a place to call home where you feel safe and secure is key to good health and wellbeing, but not everyone has that. Too many people experience homelessness in Melbourne. That’s what the Melbourne Zero campaign is all about – calling attention to homelessness in Melbourne and spearheading a movement to make change.
A safe and secure home has different meanings for different people. It’s not always a family home that provides this. When young people cannot live in their family homes, it’s important for support services, like cohealth, to step in to provide that home.
Across three locations, cohealth’s Youth Residential Recovery (YRR) provides a home for young people where they can be themselves and work on their recovery goals in a supported, inclusive environment. Young people live on the sites for 12 months before they are supported to move into their next home.
“We take young people as they are,” says Aidan Rossiter, Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach. “We accept and value all the young people who enter the YRR program and believe in their capabilities.”
Young people who live at a YRR site have their own rooms that they can decorate to their own tastes, and their share a kitchen, living space and bathroom with their housemates, which is a great opportunity for support and friendship.
“Whenever I get the opportunity to see a young person’s room, I can see the young person themselves expressed in the posters, furniture, and media they display,” says Aidan. “This program really allows the young people to express themselves in their own space, not a homogeneous environment.”
Maya Sheppard is also a Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach in the program, and she says that having a good orientation process allows young people to feel comfortable at their YRR site. This is also key when supporting young people who may be transitioning from homelessness or insecure housing.
“We tailor orientation to the individual and their needs. Our approach is client driven and collaborative, whereby staff will often organise care teams meetings with their other supports, to make sure we are collaboratively working together to better outcomes and support the young person through orientation,” says Maya.
“I feel really proud of the way our staff can support young people to make their houses feel more like their own. This includes being able to take young people to get some small things (plants, gardening stuff, artwork and furniture) along with their housemates so that they can collectively work on creating a comfortable shared living space. This also lets us provide welcome packs with bedding, linens, toiletries, and some cleaning supplies.”
With their own room, comfortable shared spaces and the opportunity to take part in all kinds of activities and group events, the young people who live at cohealth’s Youth Residential Recovery sites are in the right place to build their confidence and capabilities over their 12-month stay. They work side by side with their Mental Health and Wellbeing Coaches to set and meet their personal goals.
The YRR team are enthusiastic about being a safe home for young people at risk of homelessness. They speak about creating partnerships with housing services and different ways of reaching out to young people, letting them know their options and that there is support ready and waiting for them.
“We can better engage young people at risk of homelessness by helping them be informed about the services that are available to them,” says Linda Dao, Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach.
“We can be the carrier of hope that finding stable housing is possible.”
We spoke to some of the young people who live at YRR to find out what they think. Follow this link to read what they had to say.