A program has had success helping Brisbane’s homeless re-enter the workforce, sometimes after more than a decade, by giving them a safe place to call home.
Common Ground, which offers supported accommodation in a high-rise apartment at south Brisbane, has seen 56 tenants involved in volunteering and training, with 12 now in paid employment.
The organisation was there for Cameron Doo, who lived on the streets after his diabetes got out of control and he ended up having part of both feet amputated.
“I had a limousine taxi operation business for 23 years and then zilch,” he said.
“For a year I basically went homeless living on the street.”
He finally got the medical help needed and even a job thanks to Common Ground.
“From there it’s been up and up and go,” Mr Doo said.
“With the help of an employment initiative at Common Ground I’m now working in reception at a hotel across the road.
“I love customer service – being on the go – and it’s a way of feeling human and alive again.”
Another success story is Melissa Tidyman, who had been homeless and out of the workforce for 14 years.
“Before I moved into Common Ground I had everything very questionable – me, myself as a person and my lifestyle – but since I did all that rehab stuff and got on the books at the Brisbane Convention Centre things have just been going from good to great,” she said.
Ms Tidyman is working in housekeeping and said she had found real satisfaction in a job well done.
Common Ground chief executive officer Sonya Keep said a secure and safe place to call home was essential.
“That’s what this gives them – they’re able to think about ‘what do I want to do with my life and what are my dreams?'” she said.
Among those is aspiring chef Arne Holst, who is volunteering in a local kitchen.
“I like to be second sous chef in charge,” he said.
“My dream is to work up the Sunshine Coast around Rainbow Beach in one of the five-star hotels.
“I also would like to have my own house one day – that would be a dream, but reality – see what happens – take small steps.”
Topics: work, people, homelessness, charities-and-community-organisations, brisbane-4000