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Salvos 'one-stop shop' accommodation service impacting lives

Salvos 'one-stop shop' accommodation service impacting lives

Salvos 'one-stop shop' accommodation service impacting lives

17 November 2017

The Upfront Intervention Team takes over 13,000 calls each year from those in desperate need.

By Naomi Singlehurst

Over the past few months, Tania* has lost everything. She and her sons recently escaped a domestic violence situation with virtually nothing.

“We seriously don’t even own a teaspoon,” she says.

The trouble started when her daughter’s boyfriend moved in. He was an ice user and introduced Tania’s daughter to the drug.

“When my daughter’s boyfriend moved in he started to belt her up, then belt me up. He smashed up my house. I then went in for two back surgeries and they didn’t pay rent, electricity, anything. All my jewellery disappeared,” says Tania, who suffers from a chronic back condition.

After trying unsuccessfully to have her daughter and the boyfriend removed, Tania says she and her teenage sons had no choice but to flee their own house. She made over 50 unsuccessful phone calls in a desperate attempt to find emergency accommodation.

“We were homeless and I was so exhausted with homelessness services saying they couldn’t help me because it was my daughter and her partner (not my spouse/partner who was the perpetrator) so I didn’t fit the model. It took months even to get a phone call back.

“I was so traumatised and told my story to so many people.”

Tania and her sons entered a cycle of staying with friends and acquaintances, “couch surfing”, but Tania says they came across some very frightening and abusive situations.

Finally, Tania says she made contact with The Salvation Army. She was directed to the Upfront Intervention Team, a service which grew out of The Salvation Army’s Pindari homelessness service in Brisbane and now also covers the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and beyond.

The small, but passionate and experienced team takes over 13,000 calls each year. It is largely Red Shield donor-funded and aims to work with those in need from first call to finding stable accommodation and looking at underlying issues.

Team leader Keith says: “We are a new innovation within The Salvation Army Accommodation and Housing Services – a dedicated team taking all enquiries for housing and accommodation support – really a ‘one-stop shop’. The Salvation Army is about identifying opportunities and leading the way.

“It is also essential that people are not retraumatised having to retell their story again and again to different services as they desperately seek out support.”

Keith says the Upfront Intervention Team service grew from the understanding by experienced Salvos managers that even if emergency accommodation was unavailable, those in homelessness still needed hope and support in the wait and search; that all accommodation options, including maintaining or gaining private rental must be looked at; that underlying issues that caused/threatened homelessness needed to be explored and, if necessary, case management needed to extend further than traditionally offered.

“At the Salvos, we believe that hope is for everyone and that no one should have to go it alone. At the end of the day we may have say a family living in a car and even if we don’t have immediate accommodation, what we do offer is immediate support, assistance and hope.”

Upfront Intervention Team case manager, Lucy, adds: “We are also working with people who fall between the cracks, such as single fathers who have escaped as the victims of domestic violence and who also often have had little or no experience in filling in paperworkor applying for houses because they had traditionally been out at work or people like Tania who was not eligible for the wider support as it not spousal abuse.”

The service is helping Tania apply for and secure permanent housing and she has also been referred to The Salvation Army’s Moneycare service, which is assisting with her financial situation.

“The Salvos have been amazing – absolutely amazing,” Tania says. “It has been nothing but help, help, help, encouragement, encouragement. It’s made me feel welcome and loved and feel like people actually care. I’ve not had people who care, apart from my boys, in my life for a long time.

“The Salvos are standing beside me and guiding me and supporting me. They have not stopped helping. I can’t even express how grateful I am. Once I’m settled I really genuinely want to help people myself, because I have had so much support.”.

* Name changed

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