Community unites to provide dignity to homeless

Community unites to provide dignity to homeless

By Donald, Kin Ho Wong

Lesley Leece, CEO of a support centre for Brisbane’s homeless and vulnerable, aims to gather a community of locals who will assist them as ‘Friends of 3rd Space’.

3rd Space is a day-time drop-in centre open 8:30am – 4pm where people experiencing or at risk of homelessness can find support, friendship, and dignity.

It is currently funded mainly by subsidies from the State Government, the Department of Housing, and Child Protection Services, and Ms Leece said the community can support them by joining their Friends of 3rd Space program.

“In the first instance what we’d like to do with that is be able to fund our café because that is not funded by government, but it’s a very important service because people do like to come in and be able to get a meal,” she said.

“We want to establish a group of local people who are prepared to support us on an ongoing basis and we’re thinking if we can attract some of the companies that are in and around the Valley to put forward say $10,000 a year towards us and do that on an ongoing basis, that would help us.”

Ms Leece said they welcome everyone even though visitors come with different reasons.

“Some might come because they need food, they need a shower, they need to be able to wash their clothes, particularly if they’ve been sleeping rough out on the streets the night before,” she said.

The centre also has a day rest area with bedding, which many people use during the day if they have been out on the streets all night.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ housing price index found the average house price was at a new record of $933,800 in the fourth quarter of 2023, demonstrating the worsening housing crisis.

Since housing prices have become unaffordable, Lesley Leece said the number of visitors has increased.

Support services like 3rd Space often see a disproportionate amount of homeless or vulnerable Indigenous peoples.

Ms Leece estimates around 25 per cent of visitors are First Nations people, which is a huge representation given that they are only three per cent of the Australian population.

“First Nations people are very disadvantaged in all sorts of ways, and in homelessness as well,” Ms Leece said.

She believes that we can break the cycle of homelessness by endorsing the ‘Housing First’ model.

“The principle of (the model) is that people need to be stable in their housing before they can do very much about the other things in their lives, like mental health issues or substance issues,” she said.

However, she emphasised that 3rd Space does not provide housing but instead work with housing providers in Brisbane.

The Space have about 25 staff and 150 indispensable volunteers; if you would like to volunteer or donate, contact 3rd Space via their website

3rd Space on Brunswick Street. Photography: Donald Kin Ho Wong

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