A Hopeful Journey Through Homelessness – Josh’s Story

We thank Uniting WA for sharing this article with us.

A personal story – Josh’s journey through homelessness

Josh* spent time as a Uniting WA Beds for Change participant last year.  Beds for Change was a supported transitional accommodation service for people experiencing homelessness which was established during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was so successful that the program now forms part of Uniting WA’s ongoing strategy to address homelessness.

Josh shares his story here.

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I was born in a big city and spent the first 2 years of my life there before my family moved states. I then spent my childhood living in regional towns.

I was an only child and my Mum was a single Mum. She was an alcoholic and I had to look after her a lot. Since the age of 10, I used to have to nurse her outside the pub at two in the morning. A lot of the time I was on the street, drinking at a very young age. I wasn’t really socialising with good people and I was taken advantage of a lot. As a result, I don’t put up with anything these days.

When I got a bit older, I got into drugs and had issues there with methamphetamine for a while.  That wasn’t good so I left where I was living and moved states again. I still had drug issues, but it wasn’t as bad. 

Then I moved to be near my grandparents and that kind of sorted me out.  I reconnected with them in early 2020 and I started sharing things with them.  They were really supportive and good about everything, and they helped me out through a lot of the alcohol and drug issues.  They helped me gain more self-confidence – that was my main issue and the main reason I used drugs and alcohol. I don’t drink nowhere near as much now, and I don’t touch drugs anymore.

My grandparents taught me that I can really do anything.  They were hard on me, but I needed it. With them, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

I was 27 years old when I came over to WA thinking that I had a legitimate job in the South West, but it turned out it wasn’t. The boss wanted to pay me in cash. I had a letter of offer saying that I had a job, but he kept avoiding putting me on the books, so I ended up leaving after three months. That’s how I ended up being homeless in Perth.

I didn’t know anyone in Perth, but I thought my probability of getting ahead with housing and work would be a lot better in Perth than it would be in the South West.

That was the first time I went to Tranby (Uniting WA’s Crisis Support and Engagement Hub).  I came in and let them know what was happening. I was in survival mode and just spent the bare minimum I needed to get by.  I was looking for jobs as well, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was homeless. Every time I applied for a job, I used Tranby as my address and I never got any call backs from anyone because they would figure out I was homeless.

I spoke to the team at Tranby and they told me I could apply for Beds for Change. They helped me get through all of that and I got a place at Beds for Change, re-did my CV and asked them if I could use that as my residential address.  They agreed and two days later, I had a job.

Beds for Change housed me while I started working.  It allowed me the time to save up money so I could then get a share house.  I would also go to Tranby so I could use the computers and the internet for work stuff.

I started doing factory work and then decided I wanted to go to the mines.  I started off doing shutdowns but am working towards full-time work now. I did three of four shutdowns with my employer and then they offered me a probationary period for a permanent job, which I’m doing now.  I work two weeks on, two weeks off and I really like it.

I’m living in a share house at the moment but am looking to move closer to the airport and the city soon. I’m looking for a one-bedroom unit so I can have space and come home to my own things.  I like jiu jitsu and kick boxing, so I’m also looking forward to being able to do a class.

Beds for Change was awesome, it’s a program that should be done more often because it really helps people.  The service was more personal, instead of having a format where ‘this is how it runs’ – it adjusts person to person and understands that everyone’s circumstances are completely different. Instead of just having one program and one model where you’re only going to get a percentage of people who will be able to make it through that model, Beds for Change is more flexible, which it should be – because that’s how life is.

My advice to anyone in a similar situation is to think back to all the things you’ve done well in your life and remember that you can do it again.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Fostering a Child through Uniting WA – A Rewarding Experience for All

Our thanks to Uniting WA for this article.

It’s always heart-warming to hear happy news about the children we support at Uniting WA but even more so in the lead up to Christmas. At the end of last year, a 9-year-old child who had been living in a Uniting WA family group home moved into the home of his new foster carer just before Christmas.

The new carer came onboard with Uniting WA after a foster care recruitment campaign, which ran in November and December 2020. The person completed the application and assessment process and was approved to become a foster carer a month or so before Christmas.

At the same time as the carer’s recruitment, it was determined that a foster care placement would be more suitable for the child who needed one-on-one support. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The child and carer were introduced and spent time getting to know one another before moving into the carer’s home.

Their first meeting was held at a park where they played football, and they eventually progressed to visits to the carer’s home. The child fell in love with the carer’s dog and was given their own wooden bed to decorate. The carer and child formed a strong bond, and both asked if the child could move in earlier.

The carer has an interesting background, having worked as a paramedic and teacher, and now as a drug and alcohol counsellor. A calm and nurturing person, the carer is skilled in managing stressful situations and helping people through challenging times – ideal qualities and skills to support the child with a trauma background.

There was much positive collaboration behind the scenes with our Family Group Homes and Foster Care teams, working together to organise meetings and to ensure both parties felt supported through the journey.

Christmas was a special time for the child and carer who enjoyed a family celebration.

Have you ever considered fostering a child with a disability or high support needs? If you’re interested in learning more about foster care placement, please contact Fiona Cafferty on 9355 9149 or at fiona.cafferty@unitingwa.org.au.

Don’t worry bee happy: tips to attract bees to your garden

In our feature article this edition, Revive explores the importance of bees in WA. Keeping with that theme, Heather Dowling shares some handy tips for keeping our bee friends happy and healthy in our home gardens.

Plant a native garden

Attract bees to your yard with a native garden that flowers all year round. Not only will your garden look amazing, it’ll save water too.

Many native plants will flower over a few different seasons, or even all year. Try Bottlebrush, flowering Gum Trees, Woolly Bush, Wattle, Hibiscus or Lilies. Make sure you prepare the soil to your plants’ needs by clearing weeds and, if possible, installing trickle irrigation, so you don’t over or under water.

If you’re close to Perth, visit Kings Park’s Backyard Botanical Garden. It’s full of native plants that are easy to grow at home. Kings Park also run monthly Dig it With Coffee workshops, where you can chat with a horticulturalist about your native garden. If Kings Park is too far for you to visit, check out the Friends of Kings Park website for a wealth of gardening information, including a great searchable native plant database in their Plant Sales section. Visit friendsofkingspark.com.au.

Build a bee hotel

Native bees love a good Bee Hotel! With native bushland being cleared more and more, our lodger bees may find it difficult to find places to nest.

Lodger bees love to nest in existing holes and there are lots of different species that you can help to find a home. For the curious minds, Bee Hotels are a great way to learn more about native bees and observe their behaviour – being careful to leave them to their own business.

Build a Bee Hotel by creating dry tunnels in wood or clay structures. This can be as simple as drilling some holes into a dry log, or as involved as building a fancy piece of art! Lengths of bamboo work well as tunnels, but avoid using chemically treated timber. Find out more about Bee Hotels and how to make one that will suit your garden at aussiebee.com.au/bee-hotel-aussie-bee-guide.html

Give them a drink

Like all of us, bees need water. Leave a few small bowls of water around the garden that bees can access throughout the day, and remember to check them every now and then to make sure they’re clean and that they haven’t evaporated or tipped over.

Avoid chemical pesticides

Chemical pesticide or insecticide not only kills bugs and insects you might want to keep off your plants, it’ll kill our lovable bee friends too! It’s also been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder, where worker bees are so stressed they will abandon a colony and leave their queen and her young behind. Colony Collapse Disorder is currently not affecting Australian bees, and nor would we want it to.

While bee-friendly pesticides are being developed, it’s best to steer clear from chemicals in the garden, especially around the home. If pesticides must be used, don’t spray near water supplies, or directly onto flowering plants. Also, spray late in the evening after bees have finished their work for the day. This will give the chemicals a bit of time to dry up before the bees come back in the morning.

5 ways to make your church more accesible

Dr Scott Hollier, Digital Access Specialist and member at Kalamunda Uniting Church, shares his five top tips for making church more accessible for people with vision impairments.

As a young Christian in the 90s, there was great community support in helping me understand my early Christian journey. As a person with a degenerative eye condition, there wasn’t much opportunity back then for the materials to be designed in a way that worked with my failing eyesight.

While the support of my church has remained steadfast all these years, something that has changed in a positive way is technology and the
wealth of opportunity to make worship accessible to congregation members with disability or seniors that may have difficulties seeing or hearing
the service.

In a similar way to installing a wheelchair ramp at a church entrance, reviewing and improving your digital processes can significantly strengthen the
message of support and inclusivity as we continue to become more reliant on digital content.

As such, I’ve put together my top five tips on how you can improve your content to support the one in five Australians with some form of disability – many of which are likely to be coming along to your service.Continue Reading

5 ways to welcome newcomers on Christmas Day

Christmas is such a busy time that many church goers don’t always stick around after the Christmas Day service. It’s understandable, especially if you have family and friends coming round for lunch and there’s a meal to be prepared.

But Christmas Day can also be a busy one for churches; congregations often have visitors who want to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with their local church. This is a great time to welcome newcomers and to share church life. This edition, Revive has put together some tips for how to effectively engage with Christmas Day visitors at your congregation.Continue Reading