By Rebecca Reynolds
It’s hard to know where to start when talking about what homelessness looks like for young folk in 2009. It’s hard, because when I think about what it looks like the picture is something that most of us can relate to in at least one way or another and we, in no way would consider ourselves to be homeless.
Homelessness looks like a night on a friend’s couch, or staying out all night dancing. It looks like turning that night out at the pub into an all night tryst or walking the streets all night and sleeping through the day, and, while most of us have been there, the big difference is that we usually have been there by choice.
We have an alternative. For young folk experiencing homelessness in 2009 they are creating these situations night after night -” just so they can feel safer.
And then there are those who have secured themselves a room in some form of boarding or shared accommodation -” a room often shared with others.
Take Tami, for example -” a young person who Twenty10 was helping to sort out some identification. Tami had been forced to leave home and couldn’t get access to a birth certificate to prove his identity. Think about how many times you need to prove who you are to get things done.
But with a support statement from Twenty10, the final step in getting an ID card sorted was a piece of mail with Tami’s current address on it.
The mail itself was not the problem -” the problem was Tami being able to get into the bedroom where the mail was located as the room was being used by the other person who shared it. There’s really nothing worse than not knowing what you are walking into -” but that’s Tami’s daily reality.
When these are the choices young people are faced with, how great are their chances of sustaining school or study, regular employment or even just good health. Our homeless young people are invisible to most of our community -” you probably wouldn’t think twice if you walked past them on the street, saw them sleeping in the sunshine in the local park or bought them a drink in a bar.
Our homeless young people are clever and resilient and take what the world throws at them and find a way to make it work -” even if that is being forced to choose between the frying pan and the fire.
info: Rebecca Reynolds in the managing director of Twenty10. Find out more about the service at www.twenty10.org.au or phone 1800 65 2010.