The Salvation Army

Year 10's Doorways Tour

On 8th June, the Year 10's from Budjar and Karla went on an excursion to the Salvation Army in Northbridge. When we arrived, we met Darren and Davis, who were two volunteers for the Salvation Army in Northbridge. We also met Ronald who, with his wife, oversee the Salvation Army in Baldivis. We gathered in the chapel where Darren, Davis and Ronald gave us some background information on what they do and on how the day was going to work. We then split into two groups, one lead by Darren, the other by Davis. Each group was asked for a volunteer, who would act as our 'Hero' for the day. The role of the hero was to imagine they were in the situation of being homeless and the barriers they would need to overcome to try and secure a warm bed for the night.

Group One headed for Bridge House, a drug and alcohol intervention centre first, and Group Two for The Beacon, a men's homelessness facility. While walking to Bridge House, Group One were looking for a suitable place that Mark, who was the "hero" for the group, would stay if he could not get into Bridge House. Darren pointed out barriers that society often uses to try to keep away homeless people. For example, parks with public conveniences are often built with narrow doorways and limited roof overhang space so as to provide minimal shelter from wind, rain and cold weather. This is to deter homeless people from sleeping there for the night.

At Bridge House, Darren informed us that the building is designed with three purposes in mind: to help people sober up; to help with planning detox schedules for clients who have severe alcohol dependency and assisting with rehabilitation after the detox program intervention. Just as we were about to enter the facility, a member of staff at Bridge House told us that somebody was coming in for detox, and so we were not allowed in. However, we did manage to look at the recreation room, which is designed as a space for the residents to socialise in, in a safe environment.  We used this opportunity to reflect and discuss how Mark would be handling his current situation, from having no money or bedding to sleeping rough, and the opportunity for him to ask for help and go to into Bridge House.

We then moved onto The Beacon while the second group went to Bridge House. Inside the Beacon facility we gathered in the chapel, where Darren showed us a presentation that explained what the Beacon's role is and some success stories of past residents. The Beacon provides accommodation, case management and a range of services to adults over the age of 18 who are experiencing homelessness and receive Centrelink benefits.  The purpose-built 118 bed facility, provides residents with a clear path to wholeness through a mix of programs, allowing them to achieve the maximum possible degree of self-reliance and independence. It provides short term (3 months long, sometimes 6) accommodation for people who have just got out of homelessness. After three months, people in The Beacon are most of the time ready to move on. If they aren't, they can stay for another three, as the people at The Beacon don't want these people ending back up on the streets.

The two groups then met up at a park for lunch and a debrief from Davis and Darren. Our two Hero's then received a prize for volunteering, the prize being a voucher for a free Big Mac. As the day ended, and we reflected on what we had learned and we boarded the bus to start our  journey back. Special thanks go to Darren, Davis and Ronald for helping us on Thursday, and to Mrs Capewell and Mrs Davis for making it possible. By Ben Van Koolbergen - Year 10