INSPIRING: Helen Youngberry from Goodna Street Life has been nominated for a Pride of Australia award.
INSPIRING: Helen Youngberry from Goodna Street Life has been nominated for a Pride of Australia award. Rob Williams

Hero Helen saving one life at a time

EVERY day someone hits rock bottom and life on the street becomes a reality.

When people facing homelessness have nowhere to sleep, no food to eat and little hope to help themselves, Helen Youngberry steps up.

Ms Youngberry knows how it feels to face the prospect of homelessness, she did herself, but she also knows the value in giving a stranger help and support when they have nowhere else to go.

She founded homeless shelter and crisis support program Goodna Street Life three years ago in a bid to help curb the homeless statistics in Goodna and surrounding suburbs.

A steady stream of people turn up to Goodna Street Life every day.

Some of them have escaped domestic violence, some have recently been released from jail or have fallen on hard times while others are drug addicts, unemployed, have mental health challenges or don't have a family to turn to.

They are all destitute and they are all homeless. Goodna Street Life has been the refuge countless people have turned to for support and a place to stay.

A man needed help to find a rental home with his son, a young homeless boy was re-united with his family in Western Australia and a mum and her children were housed after they escaped a domestic violence situation. Others were given money for a GoCard or petrol so they can buy food.

These are basic services people need to get through the day. They are just the sample of heartbreaking cases of destitution, marked with a future of possible death, Goodna Street Life has helped people escape.

"I had one bloke come in and he was all but dead. He had too many drugs," Ms Youngberry said.

"Between us and a rehabilitation centre, he now has a house and a job. He will tell you to anybody's face we saved his life. If it wasn't for us he would be unequivocally dead.

"It just re-affirms we are needed. You go to bed knowing the fight tomorrow is worth it."

Ms Youngberry and vice-president Steve Purcell have seen countless cases of people needing similar help, and more, all the while fighting through government red tape and regulation to keep the service open. Goodna Street Life operates three houses. Each is different to accommodate different demands. They are drug and alcohol free and one is a drug re-hab house.

"We teach them how to live and skills like budgeting and food shopping, engagement and healthy relationships. We teach them how to live because when some people are released from jail they don't know how to live without what put them there in the first place. A lot of it is drug addiction," Ms Youngberry said.

Pride of Australia is a News Corp initiative to unearth and honour ordinary Australians who make an extraordinary contribution to our community.

Nominate a hero at prideofaustralia. com.au.



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