Life House Program is an initiative that has been started as an adjunct to LifeShapers Family Services Newcastle. Lifeshapers is a not-for-profit charity that runs Soul Café and provides free hot food and support to the homeless and needy people in the Newcastle City region through the Soul Café Located at 49-51 Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW.
In an effort to address an urgent need for quality housing and personal mentoring for homeless men who come through Lifeshapers Soul Café we have set up a Life House in Mayfield, which currently houses four men. These men are mentored through Individual Service Plans (ISP’s) in order to assist them to step up and overcome issues that may be stopping them regaining independent accommodation or employment.
Each resident is required to sign a contract to agree to comply with the requirements of the program and to abide by the rules of the Life House. The men are accountable for their own behaviour and every effort is made to be able to provide a safe and peaceful home which is more than just a house and the men are encouraged to be free thinking and independent to their own personal circumstances.
Because of the difficulties that can occur in group accommodation all alcohol, drugs and pornography are prohibited within the house and some residents are required to undergo drug testing if this is an area where we are assisting them. Each resident contributes to their own accommodation costs and upkeep which enables us to cover the costs of renting the house and providing necessities as well as paying all utilities.
Each resident is also encouraged to contribute to a personal savings program designed to assist them when they graduate from the Life House Program to independent accommodation.
Weekly meetings are held at the house where all the residents of the house get together and have a communal meal with mentors. We discus a subject or topic which is designed to help each resident in their personal growth and the development of skills needed to live an independent unassisted life, such as cooking, how to apply for jobs and write resumes, budgeting etc.
Each resident is taken on a three monthly basis and their needs are determined during the development of each persons own ISP with a goal of being able to find independent accommodation and employment if possible within a twelve month period.
The length of each resident’s participation in the program is determined by their own individual needs and are assessed by their progress at achieving their goals and overcoming personal barriers that may have impeded their attempts to get control of their life circumstances previously.
All assistance to the men who participate in the Life House Program is provided by volunteers sourced through LifeShapers. To qualify for a position in Life House the men just need to be willing to work together with a life coach to try to achieve the improvements that they need to get them into independent accommodation.
Although the Life House program is in it’s infancy it is the intention that coaching and assistance will continue with each person that graduates from the program to try to maximise the success rate and provide the best possible assistance to each participant.
The initial setup costs incurred for the first Life House were offset by donations and the fact that we already had a lot of the furnishings needed including kitchen appliances and cooking utensils etc so our costs to set up the house only just exceeded $3,000.00. We anticipate we will require between $5,000.00 to $8,000.00 to establish each additional house to cover furnishings, linen and cooking utensils etc until we have the house properly established and ready for another five residents.
Life House is a program designed to give assistance to men who through life’s circumstances find themselves less fortunate than they would like to be without rental references and therefore unable to find accommodation through normal procedures.
With assistance of between $5,000 - $8,000 we will be in a position to offer another five homeless or destitute men a fresh start and add value to their lives and to the community they live in.
I am currently over sighting this program voluntarily whilst in full time employment. I am hoping that I can leave my employment eventually and work full time in assisting the needy men and women of Newcastle through Lifeshapers and the Life House Project.
LIFESHAPERS FAMILY SERVICES
Oversight of Life House Program, Newcastle
Tel: 4926 1943 Fax: 4927 0736
49-51 Hunter Street NEWCASTLE 2300 ABN 67 385 398 045