#HW2022 | Lived Experience Walks

Homelessness Week is a national week to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness, the issues they face, and the action needed to end homelessness not just manage it.

These walks by Josh Serafini first began during Homelessness Week in 2021.

Josh approached Shelter WA asking if he could lead a group of strangers on his actual journey while he cycled in and out of homelessness. It would also be a chance to see how local community providers are handling the issues which homelessness creates on the front lines throughout the city. The concept was an instant hit, with the first ever walk quickly selling out. Read about it here.

In 2022 three walking tours were organised. Two of them for the public and one for Department of Communities staff. All three events quickly sold out.

While the walk and a visit to both Uniting WA’s Tranby Engagement Hub and Vinnies WA Passages Youth Engagement Hub had not changed – it is true and authentic to Josh’s experiences – from last year, the weather had. In 2021 although cold, participants were free of the menacing havoc a deluge creates when its coming over your head.

Perth’s Rain Event

On Monday, 1 August 2022 Perth had received 11.2 mm of rain by 9:00am. In the following 24 hours another 16.2 mm fell. Participants were easy to spot as they arrived ahead of time. Black everything with ponchos, umbrellas and uncertain looks spread across their faces. How long our garments would keep the rain out would be anyone’s guess but as we hit Adelaide Terrace to walk towards McIver Station it would quickly become a lost cause.

Our first stop was Jewell House. Located on Goderich Street the building stands derelict. Josh looks up as the rain falls from its facade.

“This building has been standing for about twenty years and it hasn’t been used,” Josh said. “Back in the day this was crisis care accommodation … it means a lot to me because I used to sleep there underneath where you are standing.”

“I used to sleep there underneath where you are standing.”

Criss-crossing roads with indifference to the rain Josh and the twenty-five odd people following him created a sight for traffic passing by, particularly with television cameras in tow.

We trudge down the back lane of a carpark adjoining Royal Perth Hospital.

Watch part of the walk here

“This was also a place where I used to sleep,” Josh says. “I used to sleep on the top level of the carpark but was usually kicked out by security guards.”

With many of Perth’s Community Services Providers located nearby it was a great space to lie in wait for facilities to open.

Tranby Engagement Hub

Relieved to be out of the rain, we met Dr Andrew Davies from Homeless Healthcare (HH) at the Uniting WA Tranby Engagement Hub. As a General Practitioner Andrew has vast experience working with homeless and marginalised people. His vision is to improve the health of homeless and marginalised people.

Homeless Healthcare works in a lot of settings, they initially started with mobile clinics at drop-in services such as Ruah and Tranby, they also visited transitional accommodation services such as The Beacon, St Bart’s, domestic violence shelters and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation service. From these beginnings HH now has a fixed-site clinic located in Highgate and nurses doing street outreach. HH is now in Royal Perth Hospital seven-days a week.

“We are trying to engage people (at the hospital) so that they will come and see us in our clinics instead of representing to hospital all of the time, Dr Davies said. “And last year, after ten years of bashing my head against a brick wall we were able to open our 20-bed medical respite facility. In the last five years there have been 70 to 80 patients pass away each year.”

Passages Youth Engagement Hub

There had been some respite from the rain by the time we walked across and landed on the doors of the Passages Youth Engagement Hub. Run by Vinnies WA the service supports young people aged 12 to 25 years.

Passages helped Josh on several occasions, and we heard from Youth Worker Ed Easter. “Everyone needs to charge their phones,” Ed said. Other practical support includes a kitchen, laundry service, toilets, and showers. All staff are youth workers who can refer on to accommodation, mental health or drug and alcohol services. Several visiting services attend such as Homeless Healthcare and Street Law Centre WA. Ed and the team assist with financial and fine burdens which accumulate and become overwhelming while experiencing homelessness.

“Everyone needs to charge their phones.”

At Passages the tour concluded. Shelter WA thanks Josh for running these walks for another year and we thank everyone who did not waiver in their desire to understand the challenges of experiencing homelessness despite the atrocious weather.

Homelessness Week 2022 would not be possible without the support of our sponsors: Lotterywest, the WA Alliance to End Homelessness, Department of Communities, Fleetwood Australia, Uniting Church in the City and Beyond Bank.

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