Luke, 19 waited behind supermarkets for leftovers
Youth homelessness is prevalent throughout society and affects a person’s mental health and wellbeing well into adulthood.
Our Missionbeat team is a mobile outreach program that provides opportunities for young people at-risk or facing homelessness in Darwin. Thanks to our supporters they have helped countless young people, like Luke* on their path towards independence.
Life-changing encounter with Missionbeat
At 19 years old, Luke wished for a better life. The last twelve-months he had been homeless, couch surfing and moving between houses. He was grateful to generous friends who allowed him to stay, but living out of a suitcase was draining and he was tired of feeling like a burden.
Sadly, without a job or family support Luke could hardly afford food, or rent his own place.
On a warm day in Darin, Luke met our Missionbeat team outside a row of shops. He was surprised when they approached him. With warm smiles and a friendly demeanor, they started a conversation.
Shy and embarrassed Luke admitted that he was waiting behind a supermarket hoping for leftover food. As they continued to talk, Luke disclosed that he had been couch surfing for the past twelve months and needed help.
Experiences of youth homelessness in Australia
Luke was experiencing ‘hidden homelessness. In Australia contrary to common perception, only 7% of people who are homeless are sleeping rough.^ Majority of people are hidden from view; ‘couch surfing’, moving between shelters, living in overcrowded dwellings or sleeping in cars.
Unfortunately many young Australians face the same situation. In our Annual Youth Survey, one in six young people aged 15 to 19 said they had experienced homelessness.
Turning point for Luke
Missionbeat helped Luke find a place to stay and listened to his needs and goals. Wanting to help him gain more independence they support him to find a part-time job at a local homeware store.
Now safely housed and more financially independent, Luke is looking forward to his future.
Being able to afford food and feeling safe is vital to overall wellbeing and development. No longer worried about housing or food, Luke has the freedom to focus on other things rather than his immediate needs.
Thanks to our generous supporters, we are making a difference in ending youth homelessness in the Northern Territory and providing opportunities for young people like Luke.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people we help.
^Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2016
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