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Wed, 22/11/2017 - 12:40

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The Red Cross Night Café located in Brisbane, Queensland was opened in 2001 as a joint project between the Australian Red Cross and Brisbane City Council. The main aim for the café was for young people aged 12-25 years old who are experiencing homelessness to have access to a safe space at night.

In 2012, The Young Centre was also launched as a partner project with the Night Café and has recently moved to a new location in Fortitude Valley. The Young Centre supports young people aged 16-25 years old to pursue their goals for housing, education, training and employment. It provides practical support for young people who are experiencing homelessness including a nutritious meal, showers, clothing and referrals to services. Young people who would like assistance with housing, employment, education or training can be referred to a Youth Worker at The Young Centre in the Valley.

In February of 2016, Jennie Linton (a support person for Youth Insearch at the time) attended an Interagency Meeting in the hopes of connecting with services to build relationships and join forces to help the young people in that area. At this meeting, Jennie met Bob Cunningham who worked for Red Cross and had been involved with the Night Café for 14 years (11 years of which he had been employed by Red Cross). Not long after the meeting, Jennie and Bob met to talk about each of their involvement with young people; talking through Jennie’s role within Youth Insearch and Bob talking about his role within Red Cross.

They both agreed that they would like to help each other out and Jennie started volunteering at the Night Café to start getting to know the young people there and building relationships with them and the services that use the Café as a neutral hangout to meet with their clients. It took Jennie going every Tuesday night for a few weeks before the young people who frequented the Night Café to start having conversations with Jennie and to trust that she is there to help them. Over the month of visiting the Night Café, Jennie built up the relationships with the young people and the other volunteers to then get a few of the young people attending a weekend workshop with Youth Insearch.

The first program that young people from the Night Café attended was March 2016 and since then there have been 5 participants and 2 support adults have gotten involved with Youth Insearch. One of the participants has just completed the residential part of his leadership training with Youth Insearch and is fast becoming a great leader and role model to other young people. There is now a strong relationship that exists between Youth Insearch and the Night Café as we have Sharyn Kuhn (Queensland State Coordinator) and David Davey (Western Downs Community Coordinator) volunteering their time on a regular basis at the Night Café. As Youth Insearch works with young people who have experienced trauma and/or challenges in their life, homelessness, disengaged from family, friends, school and work; Youth Insearch and the Red Cross Night Café work together to reengage the young people of Brisbane with their family, friends, school and work and to continue supporting them through their life when no one previously has.