Berry Street helping combat youth homelessness

Making a difference: In partnership with BeyondHousing, Berry Street and GOTAFE, the Education First Youth Foyer supports young people in the community. Photo by Megan Fisher

The Education First Youth Foyer is seeing higher demand from young people in the community.

The supported accommodation service opened in 2016 and provides young people aged 16 to 24 years old who are at risk or are experiencing homelessness with secure housing.

Team leader Matthew Jobling said the service was selected to open in Shepparton based on evident need — one that was ongoing.

He said with the rising costs of living, young people were turning to the foyer for support.

“It's proven it's needed, we’ve been here for the past six years and we've supported over 214 young people to reside at the foyer,” he said.

“A lot of those young people have transitioned into private rentals, purchased homes, reconnected with family — so it's really important.

“It's important the community embraces it as well, and we get that support from the community.”

In partnership with BeyondHousing, Berry Street and Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, the service supports up to 40 young people at a time, with a cap on a two-year stay.

Mr Jobling said the foyer focused on up-skilling young people in education, whether it was through mainstream schooling, alternative schooling, apprenticeships, traineeships or university.

He said students worked with a youth development worker, or “a coach”, to support them in reaching their desired goals and learn practical skills needed for the future.

Although with the highest rates of regional homelessness in the state, Greater Shepparton has minimal options in terms of supported accommodation for 16- to 24-year-olds.

Mr Jobling said without supported accommodation programs, young people often had to leave the area and find a place to live in metropolitan areas or even interstate.

“Any supported accommodation would be welcome in Shepparton to be able to support particularly our youth in homelessness,” he said.