Nathan Murphy is an amazing 19 year old and one of my closest friends. We met at Oasis and I thought he was a youth worker but he was actually homeless and we both ended up living in the same transitional housing accommodation offered by Oasis.
We had a lot of school prefects and captains visiting Oasis during the 2011 Red Shield Doorknock Appeal so I wanted Nath to come along.
He was the vice captain of his school but due to family breakdown caused by illness, he found himself homeless.
On a journey faced with situations no young person or anyone for that matter should experience, he ended up at Oasis.
You see, homelessness does not discriminate and can happen to anyone.
Through the support he received, he is now fulfilling his dream to become a young entrepreneur and he has turned his life around.
If you want to see more success stories like Nathan sign the petition at:
Wow! We had over 35 schools visit Oasis Youth Support Network in Surry Hills last Wednesday, Thursday and Monday for The Salvos 2011 Red Shield Doorknock Appeal.
I have received quite a lot of emails and calls this week requesting The Salvos to come and inspire their school at winter sleep outs, whole school assemblies and other amazing events!
A big thank you to the schools for your amazing support and motivation, your passion has kept me going full steam ahead this week!
Let the revolution begin!
To get involved in the doorknock appeal for The Salvos - Sat 28th & Sun 29th of May check out this website: http://salvos.org.au/get-involved/volunteering/red-shield-doorknock.php
If you’re a bit Facebook obsessed like me go to: http://www.facebook.com/#!/redshielddoorknock
In exchange for just a couple of hours of your time you get:
- To raise desperately needed cash for the 25,000 families homeless in Australia and the thousands more at risk
- To have some fun with your friends and maybe make some new ones
- A certificate for your hard work (great for your resume)
- AND A MCDONALDS VOUCHER
Sounds like a pretty good way to spend a couple of hours to me. Remember volunteers are the lifeblood of the Salvos - that could be you!!
Today was my second day as the Oasis Schools Liaison for The Salvation Army. I was supposed to write a blog after my first day yesterday but was so exhausted I literally completed my paperwork and went to sleep!
Firstly, you are probably wondering what Oasis is. Oasis Youth Support Network is The Salvation Army’s response to youth homelessness in Australia. You can find out more about Oasis here: http://salvos.org.au/oasis/
What I do want to share though is that Oasis actually saved me 18 months ago when I was homeless. I became homeless through issues I faced through family breakdown and some pretty shocking choices I made with my life when I became a teenager. I turned to Oasis because I needed somewhere to sleep for the night but far out, did I get a whole lot more than just a bed. The first person I ever met at Oasis was John Harris. He is the Youth Liaison Officer for the Eastern Territory of Australia and he turned my life around. These days I work for John Harris and Major Paul Moulds at The Salvation Army headquarters in Sydney.
It is a dream come true.
Here’s why:the Oasis centre in Surry Hills, Sydney was the subject of a 88 minute documentary (Released in April 2008) which supported the National Youth Commission’s report about Youth Homelessness in Australia. This documentary was watched by 1.1 million people and stopped Australian’s in their tracks. I was personally moved by the documentary, not only because I relate to the challenges and confronting emotions these young people have to face. I was moved because this documentary is real. It is not fiction or just based on a true story, it is not set in a third world country or another time in history. The heartbreaking and traumatising situations in the documentary are happening in our prosperous country every single day and we need to see a shift in the perception of this issue and put youth homelessness on the national agenda.
The Oasis Documentary has now been developed into a teaching resource called Oasis Youth Homeless Matters and has been mapped into the national curriculum for secondary schools in Australia.
32,000 young people between 12 to 24 are homeless every night in Australia. If you include children under the age of 12 this number jumps to 44,500. The instances of youth homelessness has doubled in the past 20 years.
Having been through homelessness myself, I don’t believe any young person should ever have to be without a home or feel that being in their home is so bad that they choose to leave.
This is where my role comes in. In my opinion, schools are the heart of every community in our country. This is for one main reason:
As I write this, our next generation of leaders are in the school system. They are eager to care, eager to be a voice for their generation and eager for change. I believe that the biggest problem with the issue of youth homelessness in Australia is lack of awareness. All young people desire and deserve purpose and fulfillment in their life. I want our future leaders to understand that ending youth homelessness is something they can be apart of so that their peers never have to be at risk again and that our country can be free of young people without a home.
This issue has been overlooked for too long and I’m advocating for real change. The documentary and school module needs to be completed by every secondary school in Australia. It’s an amazing module which I’ll discuss in more detail later. I wish that there had been a Schools Liaison at my school when I was younger, I believe I could have recognised issues with my past a lot earlier and I could have realised my calling in life without having to hit rock bottom first!
It is an absolute honour to work alongside schools to tackle this issue and I cannot wait to get stuck into it.
I got a little side tracked but I wanted to quickly reflect on today from a personal point of view. As mentioned, I am working for Major Paul Moulds and John Harris - two of the most inspirational people I have ever met and ever will meet. They are true superheroes in my eyes who devote their lives to ensuring the world is a better place with them in it. They recognised our country needed change and now spend everyday fighting to ensure this desperately needed change occurs. Honestly, it is so intimidating to work alongside them. Little, old me who was homeless less than two years ago! As John always says, what you hang around - you become. I hope that some of their amazing super hero powers transfer to me soon!
Shake the nation!
Today was the second meeting of the 2011 Champions. Champions is an engagement program between Virgin Employees and Oasis young people where we get together for the issue of youth homelessness. It gives all people involved a chance to make a revolutionary change in the lives of disadvantaged young people in our country.
For some that attend it is a safe haven to be yourself, a place to get a meal, somewhere to find company or fuel curiosity. For others they find fulfillment and purpose. For everyone it is a journey that will majorly impact their life in some way or another.
Honestly, Champions is home to me & where I consistently feel my happiest. It encapsulates everything I regard to be important in life. Friends, family, sharing, purpose, fulfillment, challenge, stability & changing the world for the better.
My favourite part of the night, besides receiving further insight into some wonderful & compassionate people, was watching one of my best friends in her element.
The beauty of being able to share a gift like the power of this program with someone is so rewarding. So often through life you watch people face traumatic challenges that none should ever have to face. It is not often you are able to provide a tangible way to assist with the closure & healing they require from these challenges.
Christopher Whitnall facilitated an amazing workshop for us tonight, one that I had completed this time last year during 2010 Champions. It brought me back to a memory I had forgotten. The memory of how petrified I had been completing the workshop last year. I was looking a deck of cards where we had to pick images on the cards we related to, thinking “I can’t do this. What if my answer isn’t good enough? I wish I wasn’t here, this is too hard”. A year later, I completed the exercise with pride. Proud to share my story, proud in my own skin.
The power of Champions is mind blowing & other major cities in the world are starting to catch on. If you’d like to get involved, please contact me.
Goodnight and peace!