A home to grow in to
- 27 July 2020 1:43PM
It takes courage to ask for help. When people have no shelter, they can feel ashamed or embarrassed at the idea of reaching out for support.
That’s why community organisations like Regional Housing Limited (RHL) in Bundaberg have outreach teams who search for people sleeping rough, instead of waiting for them to visit their office.
“We try to make it easy for people in Bundaberg to access housing support,” said Mick, who heads up the outreach team.
“We bring people in and refer them to other support – like long-term housing,”
RHL is supported by the $2.5 million Dignity First Fund, intended to help people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Mick recently struck up a friendly bond with local man Dave, just before COVID-19 sent the town into lockdown.
Dave was sleeping on people’s couches and on the streets after serving time in prison on minor charges. He wanted a plan to find a more permanent home.
“I was staying with friends and family in Gympie. Then with my mum in Bundaberg and then at a few different places around town,” said Dave.
“It was challenging not having [stable] accommodation. Living with the fear of not having anywhere to go is frightening and confronting. It took a long time [for me] to want to ask for help.”
“I’d been in contact with RHL for a little while. I ended up calling them for somewhere to stay. I talked to Mick, and he arranged my accommodation for a couple of weeks.”
RHL placed Dave in motel accommodation until a long-term lease on an apartment near the Bundaberg CBD became available. Dave received a pack of new white goods through Dignity First funding to help him settle into his new place.
Mick said housing has made an impact on Dave.
“I’ve seen a change in the way Dave carries himself now. It’s the way he walks – he just seems to have lifted.
“Sometimes just accessing services and asking for help is a big step for people,” Mick said.
Dave agrees. “Yeah, it takes time, and effort.”
“[My new home] is one of those ‘sunshines’. I like it here, it’s close to shops and the river.”
Dave doesn’t lack for hobbies. He enjoys gardening and knows the names of many different plants and flowers. He likes to read – mostly adventure and romance stories – and has a university diploma in community and welfare support.
“Over time, I’ll get employment. It’s just about taking those steps. I need to create some structure first,” said Dave.
RHL is supported through the fourth round of the Dignity First Fund to provide essential household goods and under the COVID-19 round of Dignity First to reach out to rough sleepers with information and housing support.
If you need help or this story has raised issues for you, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
To learn more about the Dignity First Fund visit qld.gov.au/dignityfirst.