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27 October 2020
From left: Jed Donoghue (State Manager Housing and Homelessness for The Salvation Army), Major Kevin Lumb (Area Officer for North Tasmania), Nathan Hughes (Team Leader at Burnie Safe Space) and MP Roger Jaensch at the opening of Burnie’s 24/7 safe space. (Photo from Burnie Safe Space 24/7 Facebook Page).
Words Jessica Morris and Nathan Hughes
Bob* is a former professional boxer who has faced the likes of Danny Green. He wasn’t a stranger to hard times in the ring, but when life hit rock bottom, he needed some help to find his footing again.
Bob was the first guest at the Burnie Safe Space, a trial program based on a model of care pioneered by the Salvos Homelessness services and Hobart City Mission in the Tasmania capital in December last year.
After recognising the impact COVID-19 was having on the most vulnerable in the community, the Salvos opened the Burnie branch of the Safe Space in July. Funded for six months by the State Government, it not only gives rough sleepers some shelter for the night but also connects them with additional services.
“For some, the Safe Space program may be the first step towards moving off the streets,” said Jed Donoghue, State Manager of Housing and Homelessness with the Salvos in Tasmania. “A key aim of this expansion [in Burnie] is the inclusion of ancillary services such as mental and medical health services, Housing Connect and Drug and Alcohol services.”
This holistic approach was just what Bob needed to get back on his feet. With the support of the team at the Burnie Safe Space, he successfully applied for a unit and has a job at a local takeaway business. This gives him the stability to do more than just survive, but thrive.
To date, the Safe Space has hosted 391 sleepover/stays for people, with more than just short term results.
“We have connected seven people directly to mental health services and four individuals with AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) services. And we have also helped facilitate nearly six permanent housing outcomes,” said Jed.
Other guests who have benefited from this include Andrew*, who relapsed and needed support to withdraw from substance abuse.
“Our staff helped him to navigate the withdrawal process and eventually get him connected with the Bridge Program, and mental health services,” said Jed. “He is now looking to go back to school as he has a Certificate III in Land Conservation and has almost finished his Certificate IV in Horticulture.”
Burnie Safe Space is also a portal to external services in the state’s north-west.
* Names have been changed