Funding hunt under way to expand vital services
AN $80,000 push is under way to help heal those sleeping rough and doing it tough across the region.
Sunny Street founders Dr Nova Evans and nurse Sonia Goodwin, who started their Sippy Downs-based mobile outreach and healthcare provision service 18 months ago, are eager to expand their services.
Dr Evans said homelessness was “very much a hidden problem, particularly on the Sunshine Coast”.
What started as a twice-weekly clinic rapidly expanded with more than 250 volunteers now on the books.
Volunteers included GPs, nurses, paramedics and community members, who provided treatment in neutral territories like neighbourhood centres or caravan parks for homeless and vulnerable people.
The service had expanded to Gympie and into Brisbane and Fortitude Valley, and there were plans to expand nationally, if the service could secure $80,000 in funding.
Dr Evans said homelessness was a growing problem on the Sunshine Coast.
She said it went beyond people just sleeping rough, with overcrowding, temporary shelter and other issues becoming more prominent.
The top demographic they encountered were men aged 25-55, but Dr Evans said they were looking after children as young as two weeks old and people as old as 87.
She said simple issues like mosquito bites could become quite severe medical problems when left untreated, which many homeless people did.
Dr Evans said their clients came from all backgrounds, including ex-CEOs, former chief financial officers, business owners and even one of their volunteer doctors who became homeless.
She said it was a common misconception that homeless people were drug or alcohol-addicted.
“Over 80 per cent have no one to list as next of kin,” Dr Evans said.
“It takes an incredible amount to turn them around.”
She said a home was important, but often not the only factor needed.
“It’s more complex than that,” Dr Evans said.
A recent survey of patients revealed 92 per cent had avoided having to go to hospital because of the street clinic.
“We provide a psychologically-safe space and take the time to have conversations with our patients,” Ms Goodwin said.
“There is no time limit on Sunny Street consultations, we finish when the patient is ready.”
To donate head to sunnystreet.org.