Facing Homelessness - Homelessness Week 2019

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5 August, 2019


It used to be that when you mentioned Homelessness it would conjure up pictures of people sleeping rough in doorways. Over the years Homelessness Week has helped to highlight the wider plight of those sleeping rough on the streets, in shelters, in cars or couch surfing. Domestic Violence, family relationship breakdowns as well as financial desperation, mental health issues and drug or alcohol abuse now help to define the Homelessness statistics. The complex series of issues surrounding homelessness make it clear that there is no one case scenario that is a quick fix.

To the many community service organisations and charities, Homelessness Week is just another week when people need and seek help. Politicians and local members will attend forums with guest speakers and a smorgasbord lunch to chew over the subject. We, the public, display our awareness by wearing flannelette or nominating someone in the office to sleep in a sleeping bag overnight. Some will raise money for their favourite charities by walking a mile or two. What ever it is, wearing the shirt, sleeping in the car, buying a coffee for a stranger and eating the homelessness sausage sanga at Bunnings, we need to remember and continue to voice that Homelessness is not something that will go away without a longer term view and greater follow up and commitment outside of this week.

In the major cities such as Adelaide there are a wide range of services that do their best to provide people in need with something to eat, a place to wash clothes, a clean toilet, and if available a safe place to sleep. Many services have now gone mobile. "One Voice Showers" and "Orange Sky" laundry services criss-cross the Adelaide region to be where they are needed and Foodbank is pushing further and further into the outskirts with their new mobile vans to help people in need or at risk of being homeless. It may be a complex game of Tetris but having regular support services at hand to provide ongoing assistance and long term mentoring is crucial.

In the regional areas of South Australia, services are scant and shelters or housing for the homeless are almost non-existent. Without physical housing or shelter solutions for the homeless dealing with the issue is a quick ride on the futile treadmill for most service providers. Even in big shires close to Adelaide such as Mount Barker there are no shelters or accommodation for the homeless and the booming housing growth means there is also little in the way of vacant houses or bus terminal buildings for people to get out of the weather even if its a code red or code blue day. Services in these regional areas can only provide assistance by moving people away from what support groups they have established and risk creating social isolation and increased mental health issues that will have longer term problems. More time than not the person would rather be living rough in an area they are familiar or have established connection than living isolated in a house in another region. Many people return to their original area which means they also risk accumulating debt from a vacant rental.

Check out the ABC Riverland story about the ongoing support needed for regional homelessness (related content).

So slip on your favourite flannelette shirt and sign up to sleep in the car. Get your pockets bulging with gold coins and throw them into the tin whilst eating the Homeslessness sausage sanga. If you're in the outskirts of the city or in the bush regions throw your support behind the local service providers and to the butcher and the baker who quietly helps to feed the many families at risk of homelessness in your town. They need your support to help people doing it tough not just today or this week but every day and every week.

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Three simple questions to ask yourself before you buy

We've all done it. Bought something we later regretted because we didn't really need it.

The AfterPay logo seems to be everywhere, along with other so-called 'buy now pay later' products. You've heard it from sales assistants offering alternate ways too pay. Before you do, there are a few simple few questions to ask yourself about what you're about to buy?

1. How much do I really like it? Is this a necessity that will be beneficial for me and my household?

Stopping to think about whether you really like the item, and how it will add to your life might help put it in perspective for you!

2. How long have I been thinking about this purchase?

If you've been researching the product or thinking about it for a while, you're on your way to a good decision. You could also ask, 'Would I make this same purchase in 24 hours?' These questions help us reduce spontaneous decisions that we might later regret.

3. Do I have enough money to buy this today, which won't impact on my bills or payments?

If it's a stretch and you're reaching into next week's groceries, today is not the right time. Is there a way to save up instead?

"I often feel like I need to have the next best thing whether that be the current fashion fad or new gadget. However I've taught myself not to get caught up in it - a skill that has saved me so much money! Whenever feelings of urgency to buy "it" arise, I wait one day. 9 out of 10 times these feelings of urgency subside and I end up feeling better for it having saved the money and not made an unnecessary purchase" - Hannah

The Salvation Army's Monecare program encourages you to go on a buying reflection journey. Have a goal in mind like steering away from AfterPay and using it less, spending less online this month, or start saving for Christmas! Whatever it is, asking yourself a couple of questions before you buy something goes a long way in removing regret!

(Article sourced from The Salvation Army's Moneycare's "You're the Boss" Program)

For extra help with your goals, get in touch with a financial counsellor. They're free, independent and confidential.