Neighbours on the street

Within a period of eight months, UnitingCare West, a community service provider of the Uniting Church, has come into contact with over 180 families who are at risk of  homelessness in Perth. That is over five families a week in crisis situations. Responding to this need, UnitingCare West opened the Family Foundations Service to support families  who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Perth and the surrounding suburbs.

The service is the first of its kind in Western Australia and is currently operating under a self-funded, pilot program that will end in February. The successful program is now seeking funding so that it can operate as a permanent service. Families in WA have to battle with high rent and living costs, a limited number of available public housing and a lack of support  programs.

According to the 2011 Census, it is estimated that there are 2,428 children under the age of 18 years old that are homeless within Western Australia.

“There is strong evidence to  suggest that people who experience homelessness as a child are more likely to revert to patterns of homelessness as an adult.” said Sue Ash, CEO at  UnitingCare West.

This service offers parents the chance to help prepare a meal for their children using the kitchen facilities and supplied nutritious food, along with an education and activities area  where children can complete their homework in a structured environment. It also offers facilities for the families to have showers, do their washing and access other immediate   needs.

“This service focuses on creating a safe and supported environment. This is essential in providing respite from the often chaotic and uncertain experience of homelessness” says Anne Maroni, Manager Homelessness Support Services, UnitingCare West.

Centrally located at 6/5 Aberdeen Street, Perth, this facility is open from 4pm – 8pm Monday to Friday. For further information on the Family Foundation Services or to make a  donation towards keeping this vital service in operation, please contact 1300 663 298 or familyfoundations@unitingcarewest.org.au.

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