Young people overcoming homelessness

A Melbourne City Mission and Victoria University project celebrates young people overcoming homelessness.

The September 25 launch of the book Step Ahead: Young People’s Stories of Overcoming Homelessness is the culmination of work between 2011 and 2012, where 27 former residents of Melbourne City Mission’s ground breaking Step Ahead program met with researchers from Victoria University and Melbourne City Mission to share their experiences of life in Victoria’s first foyer-type service.

The Foyer model works with young people aged 16-25 years, who are at risk of homelessness or dislocated from mainstream supports, by incorporating long term supported housing with links to education, employment, training, and intensive casework support.

Lead researcher Professor Marty Grace from Victoria University's College of Arts said the book illustrated the wide range of young people’s experiences with homelessness and how services could help them.

“It shows that it is possible for services to support young people to achieve their aspirations for education, training, employment, relationships and a home of their own,” Professor Grace said.

“The individual young people’s stories show that there is not just one clear pathway out of homelessness, but many possibilities and many obstacles along the way.”

Co-researcher and co-author Dr Deborah Keys said it also underlined the persistence and strength shown by these young people and those supporting them.

“Step Ahead supported young people intensively for up to two or three years, and this research shows that it takes time, effort and persistence to overcome the legacy of homelessness and build up the resources of education, training, job history and personal stability that can prevent future cycles of homelessness,” she said.

MCM’s Step Ahead program is the first foyer model response to young people of its kind in Victoria, originally beginning as a pilot program in 2004 until it received recurrent funding from the Department of Human Services in 2007, and was renamed the Step Ahead program.

Melbourne City Mission chief executive Ric Holland said theirs was the first organisation in Victoria to run a Foyer Program and have remained a leader in the delivery of Foyer like models for several years.

“The program aims to move young people through a transition from homelessness to mainstream through highlighting the direct link between how holistic support can lead to securing a satisfying job or employability, and how this in turn can lead to a better quality of life,” he said.

“Melbourne City Mission currently manages several models of “Foyer Plus” across metropolitan Melbourne and the Victorian Government is committed to this successful model.”

The book Step Ahead: Young People’s Stories of Overcoming Homelessness is available to purchase from selected bookstores or for $30 from Melbourne City Mission: tel: 8625 4444, email: [email protected] and [email protected].

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