Collaboration is the key to addressing homelessness

IPSWICH Housing and Support Services administration officer Kelly Kershler believes only collaboration can address homelessness.

Alongside CEO Mohamed Mustapha and a small team of part time workers, Ms Kershler deals with a daily stream of people facing a variety of personal issues that have led to homelessness.

"We might get 20 calls a day from people looking for accommodation, and some of those people would be from places like Maryborough or even interstate. We have even had people calling from Perth who are prepared to travel here if they can get a place."

IHSSI manages 10 emergency accommodation properties to assist people in urgent need, while also helping people transition out of the accommodation and into their own homes.

They also provide assistance to families or individuals that are waiting for a place in one of the emergency accommodation houses.

Ms Kershler called on Ipswich people to contribute in any way they can.

She said skills and knowledge were more valuable than monetary donations.

To assist IHSSI, phone 3816 1435.

 

Ipswich tradesman Bruce Patterson has given work to people facing tough times.
Ipswich tradesman Bruce Patterson has given work to people facing tough times. Rob Williams

'He was sleeping on the floor, I put him on'

HANDYMAN Bruce Patterson's tendency to give battlers a go probably hasn't helped his bottom line.

But the retired RAAFy has gone out of his way to provide work for people who are facing personal demons or battling the stigma of disability because he firmly believes he can help them get their lives back on track.

Mr Patterson has been in business in Ipswich for 28 years and he recalled how his very first off-sider was a recently released prisoner.

"He was sleeping on the floor of a housing commission house when he started with me, but had a house full of furniture by the time he finished up," Mr Patterson said.

"I just like to give people a go. If you've got someone with some personal issues then keeping them active is the key. It's when they sit idle that things can go wrong."

Mr Patterson has taken in several former prisoners during his time running the property maintenance business.

He also helps unemployed young people and people with disabilities.

Ipswich Housing and Support Services CEO Mohamed Mustapha said Mr Patterson's contributions were invaluable.

 

Challenges faced on release from prison

THE JOURNEY back into society after an extended period behind bars can prove too much for many of Queensland's former prisoners.

Mike (not his real name) found out the hard way when he was sent on his way in February this year with $500 and barely a stitch of clothing.

After doing a year behind bars for assault, Mike emerged with a new sense of purpose, having confirmed to himself that he didn't want to enter into a cycle of re-offending and becoming dependent on institutionalised life.

He sought the assistance of Ipswich Housing and Support Services to get him through the toughest of times as he tried to make a proper go of life on the outside.

"Being in jail was really tough," he said.

"I lost the respect of family and the community. It's hard just going places and for people to see your face.

"That's why Mohamed from IHSSI was such a help to me, because he understands the situation.

"The first thing I wanted to do when I got out of jail was find a house and find a job.

"They give you $500 but you've got clothes, no food and no shelter, so it doesn't go very far.

"The next two weeks were a real struggle."

IHSSI stepped in and was able to help Mike with his drug issues and provide moral support.

"They helped talk to me about my problems and how I could move forward," Mike said.

"They explained to me how things could be better and that's what you need to hear because on the inside you become mentally disturbed."

In the past six months, Mike has secured a full-time job, bought a new car and a place to stay.

Importantly, he has also addressed his drug issues.

"I've changed my ways - done a 180-degree turn," he said.

"Now I'm working towards starting my own business, and I help my community. After being in prison and seeing people from so many walks of life I've been motivated to do more for my community. I've spent my own money putting on a fundraiser to help people struggling like I did."

 

Income loss placed family home at risk

FOR some people, a single injury can be the difference between living a relatively comfortable life, and facing homelessness.

Up until recently, accountant Mark (last name witheld) was running an accounting business, providing for his wife and two young children.

Even when a back injury from 2011 prevented Mark from keeping his own business going, he was able to secure part-time work with a firm in Brisbane, and had impressed them so much that they'd offered him a position as an accounting coach.

But things took a turn for the worse in February this year, when Mark suffered a heat stroke at work and aggravated his back further.

The injury has prevented him from working and he has had to support his family on a Centrelink payment while battling with Work Cover, who have refused his claim.

The lack of income put the family two weeks behind in rent and under threat of being kicked out of their home.

"A couple of months ago we were left with no choice but to start knocking on doors and asking for assistance from charities," Mark said.

"With some of those places you really have to remove your dignity and leave it at the door. It has been a deeply depressing experience."

Various charities, including Harvest Rain at Tivoli and Ipswich Housing and Support Services, were able to help Mark's family.

IHSSI was able to cover a week's rent while Harvest Rain provided some groceries. Ipswich Assist contributed $60 towards rent and the family sold some personal items.

However they have been left with little option but to seek out a cheaper rental property.

"Once you pay rent your Centrelink does not go very far at all," Mark said.

"We found another place that is a bit cheaper; at this stage we just want a roof over our heads."



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