my|place Yallah residence, which has room for eight young people at risk of homelessness

YOUTH Homelessness Matters Day is well underway but in the Illawarra awareness may be a bigger hindrance than the rain, with limited notice dampening the spirit of giving normally strong in the region.

“We try to do as much as we can and the community also helps out but sometimes I think they need a bit of a push and awareness is the key,” Wollongong Red Cross member Bill Farley said.

“Having limited publicity can really hinder any event.”

Wollongong has demonstrated its caring nature for years, with a spread of op shops in the CBD, multiple soup kitchens, and a steady growth of accommodation services for the disadvantaged.

“All charity organisations need community assistance, without it we won’t be able to support those in need,” Southern Youth and Family Services member Kevin Crowe said.

“So events, like today’s Young Talent Showcase, targeting homelessness are necessary to keep people aware of what’s happening.”

Over 50,000 youths in Australia struggle to find a place to sleep every night, but the real picture of homelessness isn’t what people normally imagine.

“People often associate homeless with living on the streets, this isn’t always the case though,” Mr Crowe said.

“A majority, especially in the Illawarra, are living on friends’s couches.”

While the Illawarra may have missed Youth Homelessness Matters Day, local annual event Ride Around the Lake will be attracting attention and funds for ‘my|place’ on Saturday May 5th.

my|place is a youth housing initiative run by Lighthouse Church that aims to provide a gateway to independent living for homeless young people.

For more information on my|place and the charity ride go to http://lighthousechurch.com.au/community-conferences.php

Words: THOM FARQUHAR
Photos: JESS FEENEYVideo: SAMUEL GATES

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