Recently someone asked me, why homelessness? Out of all the issues, the causes, the tragedies… why do you care so much about homelessness?

My answer was simple… because a home is the heart of everything.

Being without one disadvantages you in so many ways. From meeting your most basic human needs, to having meaningful relationships and accessing support and employment.

How can you eat and drink without a kitchen? How can you sleep without a bed? How can you complete a government form without a postal address? How can you be part of a community and get a job?

The answer is you can’t.

Sure you can get a hot meal from a soup kitchen or the Vinnies Van. You can grab a few hours’ sleep on a friend’s couch. You can wash your clothes at the local laundromat, but these are not sustainable solutions.

We know that homelessness is ‘hidden’. We don’t see the 15,000 people over the age of 55 sleeping rough in Australia on any given night.

But what’s also hidden is the extent that being homeless impacts on every part of your life.

Why do I care so much about homelessness? Because if we enable people to access safe, secure and suitable housing, we’re enabling them to not just ‘exist’ but to have a life.

To move beyond meeting their most basic human needs, to having a ‘safe place’ from which they can begin to engage with the world again.

To make friends, access services, volunteer and ultimately, get a job.

It’s not simplifying what’s a very complicated issue — people become homeless for a range of reasons. Having a home won’t cure an addiction or mental illness, but without one it’s near impossible to start to recover.

During my time volunteering with Lifeline and the Vinnies Van I’ve seen and heard a lot. What’s stuck with me the most is that anyone can become homeless.

How many of us have teetered on the edge at one time or another? Living off credit cards or going without until pay day?

That's why this Homelessness Week we're asking you to care about homeless seniors too.

Buy a ticket to our Neverland Ball fundraising campaign on 1 September, make a donation, or gift an experience or prize to auction off at the Ball. IRT funds the Foundation's work, but the more money we raise, the more vulnerable older people we can help.

To get involved go to www.irtfoundation.org.au or email irtfoundation@irt.org.au

11 August 2017

The GoodLife

The GoodLife is Australia's first YouTube Channel for over 55s. It's produced by IRT Foundation to share inspiring ad-free stories about older people.

It covers eveything from encore careers, age-friendly exercise and cooking, to skydiving, salsa dancing and creative hobbies.

You can find new episodes from Season 2 online or enjoy all the action from Season 1, which premiered last year.

Tune in to The GoodLife today