A partnership between Together Financial Services and Concern Australia

Counting sheep to fall asleep isn’t as effective when your bed is an icy footpath in Melbourne’s CBD.

Just ask the young people who try and settle themselves to sleep on the streets each night; scattered on makeshift concrete beds among rats, bugs and the unnerving noises that echo throughout the inner city.

While the heart-wrenching reality is that dozens of Victorians are forced to sleep rough each night, the situation is far from hopeless thanks to the work of Together Financial Services partner Concern Australia.

On a Wednesday or Thursday evening, it’s not hard to spot Concern Australia’s youth workers and volunteers braving the elements in the city as part of its ‘Steps Outreach Service’.

These unsung heroes have made it their mission to meet the need where it matters most and provide homeless young people with access to stable housing and positive life choices.

In Melbourne, this means combing the iconic steps of Flinders Street Station as well as Federation Square and Elizabeth Street in an effort to identify kids or young adults aged up to 25 who may be at-risk.

Concern Australia CEO Michelle Crawford said the Steps program had served the community for close to 35 years and credited its long-term success to its ability to ‘humanise’ homeless young people beyond a statistic.

“Some of these young people have experienced extreme trauma. We’ve worked with people who have been in 15 different foster homes by the age of 15,” Ms Crawford said.

“Some agencies have a greater reach in terms of numbers, but our strength is our ability to focus on making a difference with the individuals—that one person who really needs someone to invest in their life. The best we can do is spend our time and energy investing into them and allowing them to build a rapport and connection with someone they can trust.

“For some people the need might be a hot meal, somewhere safe to sleep, connection with an appropriate service or simply someone alongside them to celebrate their ‘little wins’.”

Ms Crawford said the success stories were inspiring, with clients who had slept on the streets “turning their lives around” and going on to live in their own accommodation or pursuing their life passions such as dancing or jobs in hospitality.

As part of its commitment to make a social impact on its community, Together Financial Services has recently donated $2,000 to Concern Australia to continue the critical work of its Steps program.

Ms Crawford said Concern Australia was delighted with the donation as it would enable the Steps Outreach Service to continue to reach the vulnerable.

“With no government funding, the Steps program relies solely on partnerships and donations to keep this critical work on the streets of Melbourne alive,” Ms Crawford said.

“To think that someone can take out a loan to buy a house and in turn their contribution in some way is going to help enable someone else to eventually get off the streets is a really important cycle of giving.

“This partnership between Concern Australia and Together Financial Services is creating a positive change, and it’s one that can have a long-term impact and even break that generational cycle for people in need.”

If you need financial services, choose to make your next loan a life-changing one. Contact the experts at Together Financial Services by calling (03) 8761 9024 or visit our website.