#30FacesOfHomelessness

Thirty Faces of Homelessness is about introducing you (and the world – lets dream big!) to some of the incredible young people we’ve met.

These young people are living extraordinary lives and their resilience, tenacity, heart and humour are nothing short of amazing. Through this campaign we want to share their stories…of their experience of homelessness, of domestic violence, of big and little wins and what lights them up. We want to dispel the myths about young people and homelessness and fight the prejudice they experience by showing what their truth is.

30 May – Simon’s Joy

We asked Simon what brings him joy. This incredible human, who has experienced homelessness, self harm and sooooo much more for someone only 20 years old, gave the kinda answer that gives you a glimpse into his heart.

What brings him joy isn’t something he owns, somewhere he’s been or something he’s done. Nope!

“Being around my nephews aged 4, 2 and 7 months brings me joy. They are innocent and learning from the way other people are doing things. Being with them makes me feel useful in a way.”

Simon is one of the stars of the video we’re launching tomorrow. Will you be joining us, Simon, Caitlan and some of the other young people who have gifted us their stories for our campaign? Check out our Facebook event for all the details.

29 May – Marshall’s Advice

We asked Marshall what advice he would share as a result of his experience of homelessness. He said the following pearls of wisdom, that, as it turns out, have some truth in there for all of us. Thanks Marshall!

“You aren’t going to find help sitting on the street, you need to find what you need and ask for help… I’ve learnt you have to meet people in the middle to get where you want to be.”

“Happiness is found at the end of your problems and if you’re not happy, it’s not the end but the end will come!”

#30facesofhomelessness

Want to DO something for Marshall and the other homeless young people we meet? Head over to our online shop where you can buy a health and wellness treatment directly for a young person (for as little as $5!) and be a part of our vision to provide wellness to homeless: http://joininghands.com.au/buywellshop/

28 May – Kylie

“I believe that everybody has the right to live a life filled with joy, health and purpose,” says Joining Hands Founder, Kylie Lowe.

We have a wealth of experience working with homeless and vulnerable young people and have seen firsthand the impact of trauma and abuse on their mental and physical health. Joining Hands provides access to health and wellbeing services to young people providing them another way to heal and recover.

You can be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us to provide the massages Matt spoke about for these young people by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here: http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

27 May – Tiarna’s T-Shirt

We’ve all got that one thing in our wardrobe…a pair of kick-ass boots that make us feel we can take on the world or a snuggly jumper that’s just like a warm hug or a piece of jewellery that reminds us of a time, place or someone we love.

Tiarna told us about something like this that’s special to her: “This t-shirt makes me feel more resilient and tougher than I am. I feel more protected, not vulnerable. It is my tough coat! I paid for this, I didn’t steal it.”

Thank you to all the incredible young people who have shared their stories with us during May and our #30facesofhomelessness campaign. The glimpse they have given us into their worlds is priceless. And thank you to all of you who have been part of spreading their stories.

26 May – Simon and Self-Harm

We’ve known Simon for a while now and are so, so honored that he’s shared the following with us (content warning: self-harm).

“I have self harmed since the age of 10, so 10 or 11 years. I have been seeing psychologists since I was 13. I have had close to 40 hospital admissions between the ages of 15 and 18 for self harming, suicide ideation and suicide attempts. I’ve engaged in multiple services and a lot of it didn’t work because of medication and straight therapy. It didn’t work as I learned from people who have been through it. The Youth In Search Camps were a great support because the support is from young people.

People self-harm for many different reasons, not just one… It’s a way to express your emotions when you can’t say them. I don’t know what my catalyst was as so much shit was going on at the one time. Self-harm does not come in one form, it comes in many… hair pulling, scratching, burning, cutting and self-destructive behaviours.

You’re not alone in your self-harm journey, there are others and it makes me feel less unusual or weird about it. A big goal is one day I don’t want to have to self-harm to feel better.”

Simon is one of the stars of the video we’re launching next Wednesday. We’d love you to join us! Check out our Facebook event for all the details.

25 May – Mikaela’s Cat

Mikaela’s most recent experience of homelessness started four years ago. But her family became homeless when she was young and she went into a shelter with her mum.

Mikaela spoke to us about how much joy her cat brings to her. She says, “He’s been best thing in my life, I love having lots of cuddles with my JayJay.” She wanted to bring him to the photo shoot as her ‘special thing’ but gave us this photo of him instead.

There can be so many changes for young people when they move from homelessness into safe and stable accommodation. This is how Mikaela explains it: “Once you find your own place, you can be yourself. You get to ‘drop it all’; you don’t have to meet other’s expectations. I’d rather be on my own, have my own privacy. Some people have thought it’s depression but I like to be on my own, I can think clearly and sort things for myself while I’m on my own.”

Did you know you could buy a health and wellness treatment directly for a young person experiencing homelessness via our shop for as little as $5? Head over to our online shop and be a part of our vision to provide wellness to homeless: http://joininghands.com.au/buywellshop/

24 May – Tiarna

Meet Tiarna. She’s 19 and has been out of home since she was 2 years old.

Tiarna’s story is one of strength, system failures, resilience, foster care, strength, abuse, hope…and did we mention strength?!
Domestic and family violence has had an enormous impact on Tiarna’s life – her family relationships, intimate relationships and in a lot of ways, it changed who she was is the world. It also meant this young woman didn’t have the ‘happy childhood’ a lot of us take for granted. She says, “It was hard to be in a family situation. I was in foster care and they were the best parents ever. Karen was so loving. I was angry and didn’t know how to be loved and the placement broke down.”

Tiarna has finished year 12, has a Cert 3 in Education Support, obtained her RSA and finished a Diploma of Counselling. Her long term plan is to study youth work and do psychology and law.

She says, “If you find something you like in life, go for it. You need to believe in yourself, need the right support and you CAN make it. You need to believe in yourself and I wanted to get somewhere in in life.”

You can be a changemaker for homeless youth like Tiarna. Help us to provide health and wellness treatments for these young people by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here: http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

23 May – Matt’s Tigers Eye

It was Matt’s birthday the day this photo was taken. He chatted to us about the special item he’d brought with him.

“A guy who works on the streets, we talk music together. I love playing music, I just want to spread the positive energy with the people, music spreads a good positive message. One day I gave him a beautiful tigers eye and one day he gave this to me. It’s special, it brings me good karma!”

Matt’s message to other young people on the street is: “don’t be afraid of what comes across your path – keep coming to do what you need to do and you’ll get there.”

Matt also said, “I just want to say JoiningHands does amazing work, I appreciate their good massages!!”

You can be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us to provide the massages Matt spoke about for these young people by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here: http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

22 May – Amie’s Tattoo

Amie told us what her tattoo means to her: “My tattoo represents ‘patience’, my personal message to myself. It’s my reminder! I spent years trying to rush things in life and now I’m focused on slowing things down. I’ve been in my new place for three months now, away from my past triggers and it’s all about study and a stable home for me now. I’m appreciating a better life.”

Amie is 19 and has experienced homelessness since she was 14. We’re so excited for her that she’s now in her own place and has a stable home, allowing her to think about what’s next!

Want to support us in providing access to wellness treatments for homeless and vulnerable young people? You can buy a treatment directly for a young person via our shop for as little as $5. http://joininghands.com.au/buywellshop/

21 May – Caitlan’s Buttercup

Meet Caitlan’s Buttercup.

“Buttercup is like my best friend, I can cry and she wont judge me. Buttercup was there with me during the hardest thing I have ever been through,” says Caitlan.

Caitlan’s world was rocked a few years ago when she experienced grief for the first time. She lost three people in just 28 days. When these people died, Caitlan said she “didn’t know how to act or react and it was hard knowing they were not coming back.” She was given Buttercup by someone at street level who she describes as “a lovely lady”.

Caitlan is part of the video that we’re launching at the end of the month. We’d love you to join Caitlan and us for this really special occasion. Check out our event for all the details.

20 May – Marshall

“When you’re sleeping rough you know at any time someone can just come up and harass you or stab you or take your things. There’s no safe place. This isn’t other homeless people hassling you, but lads, like college kids. I was bashed and harassed by a group of college kids who dropped a student card so I went to the school and told the principal what they did. I think they got in trouble.”
Marshall, 20 years old and homeless for 4 years

Thanks to Marshall for sharing his truth about his experience of homelessness.

Our #30facesofhomelessness campaign is about putting a human face – and a real-life story – to our ‘why’ by introducing you to some of the amazing young people we’ve met through Joining Hands. These young people are living extraordinary lives and their resilience, tenacity, heart and humour are nothing short of amazing.

Be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us provide access to health and wellness services for young people like Marshall by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here: http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador

19 May – John’s Music

When we asked Josh what brought him joy, he lit up as he told us about his love of music.

Josh says, “I’m a rapper. Writing lyrics is my way of coping with life; I get to be lyrically creative. Music allows me to express my feelings. When I’m doing it I can feel the weight lift off my shoulders.”

Check out Josh’s work here (and tune in to the lyrics – they’re powerful!)

Music does amazing things, to our heads and hearts as well as ears! What’s your go-to tune when you need a lift up?

18 May – Simon’s Hat

We asked the brave and generous young people who came to our photo shoot to bring something special with them and share what it meant to them.

Simon shared why this hat was special. “I started wearing hats after I left home, they help me find who I am. The more I wore hats, the more comfortable I was with who I am.”

We love the message on the hat too!

Simon is part of the video that we’re launching at the end of the month. We’d love you to join us for this special occasion. Check out our event for details.

17 May – Garron

Garron has been sleeping on the streets for about nine months. He says, “Living on the streets has grounded me severely. I now know what I want to do in life and how to get it. But for now, I’m just dealing with day to day life till I get my own place and get back up there.”

This image shows how Garron greets people. “I like to greet people this way. It also reminds me to be chilled. It’s like me re-knowing my true self and finding my peaceful, chilled out self,” he says.

“I just want to be chilled now and inspire others to ‘just relax man!’”

After receiving a massage/Reiki/Bowen treatment from us, chilled out is a very common response when we check in with the young people to see how they’re feeling! You can buy a treatment directly for a young person via our shop for as little as $5 and gift them that sense of being chilled out that Garron talked about.

http://joininghands.com.au/buywellshop/

16 May – Our Privilege

It was such a privilege to interview the young people who came to our photo shoot. By sharing their stories of homelessness, they gave us a glimpse into the practical realities of their lives.

Amie spoke about what couch surfing is like for young women.

“When you’re young and homeless you can’t always choose the people around you, especially when you’re couch surfing. As a teenage girl, couch surfing in a house with lots of drug and alcohol used you never know what’s going to happen to you. You don’t have your own room to get changed in and when you’re having a shower someone can just walk in. Young girls are vulnerable to anything in that environment.”

We’d love it if you’d share this post so that more people could know what the reality was for Amie and the other young people experiencing homelessness in our #30facesofhomelessness campaign.

15 May – Mikaela

Mikaela is 22 and has been out of home for about four years.

She spoke to us about the impact bullying and violence has had on her life…

“Bullying is so under estimated as a form of violence and how much it affects your entire life. I was verbally and mentally abused at school and it wrecked my self worth. Kids picked on me for everything! Excluding someone, being left out, is also bullying – it’s not just verbal or physical abuse that hurts. Cyber bullying is huge too.

I want schools to get the message to kids that being a bully is NOT ok.

Bullying’ is only on the news when someone is killed but some kids live this everyday. Bullying kills people.

Be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us provide access to health and wellness services for young people like Mikaela by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here: http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

14 May – Matt

Matt is 23 and has been out of home since 2012, homeless on and off for the past 4 years.

We interviewed him and the other young people who came to our photo shoot, so that we had their stories and messages to go along with their amazing photos.

When we asked Matt what brought him joy, this is what he said: “My Mum being happy and people together having fun brings me joy. So does music! Playing it, listening to it, good vibes, good times!”

Today can be a really hard day (excruciating even!) for lots of us, especially for people who are not connected with their Mum, people who never knew their Mum or whose Mum has passed away. Happy Mothers Day to all the Mums out there and big love to everyone who finds today hard.

13 May – Amie

Amie is 19 and has been out of home on and off since she was 14. May is Domestic & Family Violence Prevention Month and Amie’s shared her story about being in a violent relationship.

Amie says, “I was in a violent relationship for a while. I’d tell other young women that if you think its not right, its probably not. I tried to hide what was happening because it was too embarrassing. You shouldn’t have to hide anything.

I would encourage others to just pack your stuff and leave!

I just want to tell young women JUST GET OUT!

My teenage years are gone and I’ve realised there’s so much more to life than unhealthy relationships.”

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

In an emergency, call 000.

12 May – An Awesome Moment

Just had to share this awesome moment captured by Briony Masters Photographer at the photo shoot for our #30facesofhomelessness campaign. Here’s to joy, laughter and fabulous friends. Happy Friday everyone!

11 May – Marshall

Marshall is 20 and was first homeless at 16. He says this coat ‘speaks to him’ about feeling safe.

“It makes me feel comfortable. It reminds me of a blanket, it feels safe and reminds me that even if I ever miss the train or something, and get stuck on the street, I have something to wrap around me. It will keep me warm. I get comfort from it. I’ve overcome negatives in my life and it reminds me of that.”

Our #30facesofhomelessness campaign has been going for 10 days now. We’d love to know – what insights have you had as you’ve been following along?

10 May – Josh

Josh is 20 and has been out of home for 2 years.

Josh says, “Don’t look at homeless people as drifters. Just because we don’t have a home doesn’t mean we’re not human, we still have feelings and we still cry the same.”

And Josh’s story is one that may well bring tears to your eyes…

Josh used to live with his Dad. His Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and Josh was his carer, from the moment he was diagnosed until he died. Josh looked after the medication, bathing his Dad…everything.

Josh was just a teenager when all of this was going on. To cope with the responsibility and the trauma of watching his Dad dying, Josh began to use drugs.

After his Dad died, Josh went to live with his Mum but that didn’t work out. There was family violence and he describes it as “mayhem.” Josh then ended up on the streets where he was cycling around and couch surfing and spent some time in crisis shelters.

Josh is now connected with The Salvation Army Youth Outreach Service – Spring Hill for support and accommodation. He says “drugs are out of the picture now” and he’s getting on track.

We’d love it if you’d share this post so that more people could know what the reality is for Josh and the other young people experiencing homelessness in our #30facesofhomelessness campaign.

9 May – Mikaela

Mikaela is 22 and has been out of home for about four years.

Mikaela spent two years of couch surfing, some time in transitional housing services and sharing with others and is now in public housing.

Mikaela says, “Even when you’re staying on the couch with friends it’s always temporary so you feel pressured to find something of your own. It’s not a very settling way to live and you don’t get to choose who you’re sharing. You don’t get to choose your friend’s visitors either.

If there’s anything good about being homeless it’s finding yourself while doing it on your own. It’s just you. If you want something in life, you go get it!”

Be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us provide access to health and wellness services for young people like Mikaela by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here: joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

8 May – Jack

Jack is 19 and has been out of home for four years.

Describing his experience of homelessness, Jack says “When you are swimming in deeper water, you see a lot of sharks and they bite. And you bite back and turn into a shark yourself. If you start off like Nemo, it takes a huge toll.”

Be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us provide access to health and wellness services for young people like Jack by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here:http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

7 May – Krystle

Krystle works at The Salvation Army Youth Outreach Service – Spring Hill, pictured here (L) with her client Amie (C) and colleague Michael (R). She believes “all young people should automatically have access to the same opportunities, experiences and resources, including housing, regardless of their circumstances. The fact that they don’t drives me to keep working in this sector and keep advocating for the needs of young people.”

Krystle really believes in young people and their ability to achieve their goals and says she is constantly inspired by their resilience, humour, courage, resourcefulness and capacity to care, despite their circumstances. She knows the impact a positive relationship with youth workers can have in the life of a young person and is encouraged by this.

Krystle describes how she came to do what she does like this: “I started my career as a homelessness social worker, working predominantly with adult men experiencing long term primary homelessness. The majority of men I worked with had first experienced homelessness as an adolescent and I found this motivated me to move into the youth homelessness sector.”

Be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us provide access to health and wellness services for young people by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here: http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

6 May – Simon

Simon is 20 and has experienced homelessness for the past 3 years.

He says, “I left home, as my mental health was affecting everything. I was reacting violently as my family were very controlling and wouldn’t let me leave the house. They were trying to protect me from myself; I was self-harming and thinking about suicide. It was at 3am and dad asked me to leave so I left and was walking around and the cops recognised me and picked me up and told me to go home.”

From this point, Simon went from one shelter to another to another, spent some time at a residential mental health facility and stayed with his sister for a while. Simon’s experience is a reminder that homelessness isn’t just about sleeping on the streets, as he says “its people who are staying with friends and who have nowhere else to go, people in shelters and transitional housing.”

Simon is part of something pretty special happening at the end of the month – stay tuned!

5 May – Marshall

Marshall is 20 and was first homeless at 16. Marshall tells it like this…

“One day my mum just left me in the suburb of Gailes. I don’t know why. I didn’t have a job and had no access to Centrelink income due to being a New Zealand citizen. I had no family who would take me in either. With no income I couldn’t stay in supported shelters either which meant I wasn’t able to have a safe place to go. I was shut out by my family and from homeless services that I couldn’t afford. It also meant I wasn’t able to get public housing.

I spent four years on the streets and couch surfing. I used drugs and got money in different ways to survive.”

Marshall goes on to say, “Never let your negatives define who you are… You are stronger and more capable than you were yesterday!”

Be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us provide access to health and wellness services for young people like Marshall by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here:http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

4 May – Amie

Amie is 19 and has been out of home on and off since she was 14. Amie says “I went back home at different times but it never felt right going back after I left. I grew away from my family while I was out of home. I have two brothers at home but they don’t make me feel welcome when I go back home so I don’t stay there.

When I was young I had a lot of emotional pressures and it wasn’t settling to be at home. I left home for personal reasons and my family didn’t understand what I was going through. I developed mental health issues and I didn’t feel they knew how to support or understand my mental health.

When you’re young and homeless you can’t help where you end up. I tried to return home but it didn’t work. After about the tenth time returning home, I was kicked out for good.”

Amie couch surfed at different places for years, went to some supported accommodation services and now she’s in stable housing. As a result of her experience of homelessness, Amie says she has less trust now for people… but far more knowledge.

Be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us provide access to health and wellness services for young people like Amie by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here:http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

3 May – Matt

Matt is 23 and has been out of home since 2012, homeless on and off for the past 4 years.

Describing how he came to be homeless, Matt says “When I was young my best friends mum died and I didn’t cope well with the grief… I went off path. I needed to leave the school environment and have time away from family. I couch surfed with mates and just played music, drums and smoked a lot. I thought I was live’n the rock and roll lifestyle but I didn’t care much for myself during that time.

I learnt to be self sufficient on the streets… you just do what you need to do to get where you need. The bad things about being on the streets are its cold, it can be lonely and tough…and of course crusty socks!”

We met Matt at the Red Cross Night Café at the Brisbane Town Hall where we regularly provide massage and Bowen Therapy to the young people experiencing homelessness who drop in.

Be a changemaker for homeless youth. Help us provide access to health and wellness services for young people like Matt by becoming a Joining Hands GiveBack Ambassador. Find out more here:http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

2 May – Garron

Garron is 24 and has been sleeping on the streets for about 9 months. He says “I started sleeping rough with mates that I met at a homeless hub while waiting for long term housing. I suppose my relationship with my family broke down about four and a half years ago. I felt angry and hitting the streets was the only way to express it… there was a lot going on at the time and I wasn’t coping.”

Talking about his experience, he describes feeling that “homelessness on the streets at first feels freeing. But then it takes a toll on you. When you walk the street and see the people you may have been angry with before, it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.”

Garron is still looking for his own long term housing while couch surfing at a mate’s place.

#30facesofhomelessness

Be a changemaker for homeless youth – join us as a GiveBack Ambassador http://joininghands.com.au/giveback-ambassador/

1 May – Caitlan

“It’s not easy being homeless, being homeless as many times as I have people don’t understand. It takes its toll physically and mentally.”

Caitlan’s 24 years old and experienced homelessness for seven years. Her first experience of homelessness was at the age of 10 with her father when she was couch surfing, sleeping on the floor at her aunt and uncle’s place.

She describes herself as one of the lucky ones because she’s got amazing friends.

Caitlan is part of something pretty special happening at the end of the month – stay tuned!

📷: Briony Masters Photographer

30 April – Kickoff

Our #30facesofhomelessness campaign kicks off tomorrow. It’s all about introducing you (and the world – lets dream big!) to some of the incredible young people we’ve met.

These young people are living extraordinary lives and their resilience, tenacity, heart and humour are nothing short of amazing.

Through this campaign we want to share their stories…of their experience of homelessness, of domestic violence, of big and little wins and what lights them up.

We want to dispel the myths about young people and homelessness and fight the prejudice they experience by showing what their truth is.