Around 500 young people who have experienced homelessness are currently residing across Australia’s fourteen Youth Foyers. These young people are living, studying, developing skills and seeking employment across Australia and are looking forward to the new normal post COVID19.
Australia’s initial lockdown lasted from March till the beginning of May 2020, when the flattened curve meant the easing of restrictions could begin. During the lockdown, staff reported that overall the young people managed the crisis and changing nature of their home environment more successfully than staff and managers did.
Core to the Youth Foyer philosophy are six service offers, the ‘social connection’ offer is one of them. Having a social connection to community, as well as to family and friends is vital to the well being of young people living in Youth Foyers.
The Foyer Foundation asked residents from three Youth Foyers what the COVID19 experience was like and what they were most looking forward to after lockdown, they told us:
“My experience during the coronavirus pandemic has been quite challenging, being a very social person I have really felt the effects of the restrictions and at times found myself feeling lonely and disconnected. Not being able to get the gym has impacted my mental health as this is where I would usually go to let off a little steam and it makes me feel happy within myself.
The extra support that has been provided during this time has been great. We have been given options such as individual personal training classes and extra emotional support from staff.
I am most looking forward to being able to return to the gym regularly so I can work on my physical health and going out with my friends again.” – 21 year old female, Southern Youth Foyer Project.
“While living in the Foyers Service during the COVID experience, I had a number of emotions. I felt overwhelmed in a positive way, as it brought out the positive sides of young people in the Foyer Service. The overall support that Staff provided through listening to our concerns and worries during this difficult time, providing alternative opportunities when exercising was no longer an option by running fitness programs and having personal trainers visit onsite.
All the residents in our Foyers Service were provided with a food pack and a hygiene pack, which consisted of the general items to assist when we were unable to locate items in our shopping trips.
We were very fortunate to have a chef allocated to us in our Foyer Service, which allowed us to develop our living skills and learn new cooking methods and recipes.
Having an Education, Employment and Training worker onsite allowed extra support during the time when I lost my job also helped me to keeps my motivation going and also encouraged me to continue to look for jobs. I look forward to when things go back to normal and we are allowed to participate in full sporting activities.” – 19 year old male, Southern Youth Foyer Project.
“COVID was inconvenient to everyday life, gave a light on perspective. Thankful for the safety and shelter in place to have a safe and clean environment. Looking forward to social aspects opening up i.e driving lessons to achieve my goal of getting my P’s”. – 18 year old female, Foyer Port Adelaide.
“My weekly routines have been altered drastically, especially with eating out and going out with friends and family. South Australian restrictions have defiantly ruined my favourite time of the year, Royal Adelaide Show time! All’s not so bad though, I’ve had more time to myself. That has been lonely on occasion, though only sometimes. I am looking forward to being able to travel interstate for festivals and convention as it is something that I’d love to be able to do again. That, and eating out with friends is something I’m definitely keen to start doing again”. – 19 year old male, Foyer Port Adelaide.
The COVID19 lockdown has been a testing time for many of us, however as restrictions ease in certain areas there is lots to look forward too, as highlighted by the young people at Foyers across Australia.