Sacred Heart Mission
People experiencing homelessness face absence every day. The absence of a roof over their heads, of safety and security, family, food and all the basic essentials most of us take for granted. Many also face the absence of a sense of purpose in life.
As human beings, participating in society - through volunteering, training or working - is critical to our sense of belonging, self-worth and independence.
But homelessness and the issues that often accompany it - trauma, mental illness, addiction - create real barriers to people fully contributing to the economy and society.
As a result, most people experiencing homelessness live in poverty. They often don’t have enough money to cover their most basic needs and often struggle with large debts and poor credit histories, making it hard to secure stable housing.
Many also experience financial exclusion, meaning they simply don’t have access to basic financial services, like a bank account, or welfare payments or even small amounts of credit to help in an emergency.
Anti-Poverty Week is a good time to reflect on how organisations like Sacred Heart Mission can support people to move out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness by providing intensive support to improve their level of participation in the economy and society more widely.
One of Sacred Heart Mission’s five key service outcomes is ‘Economic Participation’. We want to support people to negotiate the barriers that may be preventing them from participating in work, training or volunteering.
Our pathways out of poverty and homelessness
In August we launched Phase Three of our groundbreaking Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program, which will work with 180 people over five years to attain and maintain housing, build independence and break the cycle of homelessness. J2SI includes a workforce participation coordinator.
Our J2SI case managers and the workforce participation coordinator work together with clients to boost confidence and self-belief, develop job-ready skills and look for opportunities that might suit their goals. They also link people with relevant mainstream services, including employment services.
As of September 2018, 23 percent of our J2SI Phase Two clients were in paid employment, with many clients drawing on former skills and experience to return to a similar area.
Sacred Heart Mission’s Outlandish program also supports clients to increase their economic participation. It offers opportunities for women to become involved in eco-volunteering, such as working in parks, assisting with environmental research programs, supporting community farms, gardens and animal welfare organisations.The women involved are treated as ‘employees’ from the outset, including having to negotiate the expectations of a paid work environment.
Sacred Heart Mission’s intensified focus on structured pathways to economic participation is all about supporting people to move out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness by removing or minimising barriers and providing opportunities.
Learn more about poverty and homelessness here