Christmas crisis for homeless

Melton mayor Bob Turner, Hope Street's Donna Bennett and Serap Ozdemir.

By Staff Reporter

Melton youth homeless services are bracing for a busy Christmas.

Hope Street’s residential sites across the north west, including Melton, will be offering temporary home and outreach services to more than 50 young people, aged 16-21, some of who have children of their own.

Hope Street chief executive Donna Bennett said the youth homeless service predicts the last week of December and early January will be a busy period.

“For the young people spending the holiday season in a refuge, Christmas can be a particularly challenging time,” she said.

“It is another reminder that they are not celebrating special occasions with their own family in their own home.”

Requests for crisis outreach support are expected to be higher than usual during this time of year.

Family violence is often spurred by increased alcohol consumption and increased financial stress, which in turn can put rental security in jeopardy.

“Children have an expectation that Father Christmas will visit, and young parents can put themselves under huge financial stress in order to deliver on this for their children,” Ms Bennett said.

“Many young people spend more than their budget allows to cover Christmas gifts and Christmas lunch – leaving not much left over with which to pay rent in January.

“Anecdotally we find that people tend to play ‘happy families’ and try to keep relationships intact for Christmas, but soon after Christmas the relationships break down and the numbers of young people experiencing homelessness spikes, as the post-Christmas realities kick in.”

Hope Street will work to give a memorable Christmas to the young families in its care. There will be a Christmas tree in every site and each person will be given a present on Christmas morning.

The refuges will also provide a Christmas lunch complete with bonbons and puddings.

Hope Street’s First Response Youth Mobile Outreach Service in Melton will be operating every day from 10am to midnight throughout the holiday season, including Christmas Day.

-Joanna Catalano