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Winter is coming: Pumpkins to warm hearts

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An initiative, involving 500 specially grown pumpkins, is being used to encourage all Australians to get involved with their local youth services during winter.

On 5 June the young people of Pathfinders, a youth refuge of Armidale, will donate 500 pumpkins to young homeless Sydneysiders at The Salvation Army’s Oasis Youth Support Network (Oasis) in Surry Hills.

Donation is an act of compassion and adds a synergy to the Pathfinders’ program at Tilbuster Station, where disadvantaged youth in the country are lending a helping hand to homeless youth in the city.

The program at Tilbuster Station teaches students the importance of agriculture and farming, as well as essential life skills to develop their sense of independence and self-esteem.

CEO of Pathfinders, Alan Brennan said, “Learning these life skills has been an important factor in showing just what young people are capable of, and how they can give back to their community.”

Each night in Australia more than 26,000 young people don’t have a safe a secure place to call home. The issue of youth homelessness is of great concern and the actual number of people affected is likely to be significantly larger, especially as many young people do not identify themselves as homeless.  Young people at Tilbuster Station wanted to provide practical assistance to homeless youth, draw attention to their plight and the experience of homelessness in Sydney.

“We want to demonstrate the resilience and generosity of young people and emphasise that they aren’t looking for handouts, but contributing to the wellbeing of others.” Alan Brennan said.

NSW peak body for youth homelessness Yfoundations which is coordinating the distribution of pumpkins has identified 5 core foundations that all young people require to end their experience of homelessness. These include Safety & Stability, Home & Place, Health & Wellness, Connections and Education & Employment. Recent research by Yfoundations suggests that the need for young people to be physically and emotionally healthy and well is fundamental to overcoming homelessness.

“One consequence of living without stable shelter is the risk of food insecurity.” President of Yfoundations Brett Paradise said. “Food insecurity is particularly concerning among children and young people because adequate nutrition is essential for optimal growth and development.”

Whilst a reform is happening across the homelessness sector which provides support to thousands of young people, the challenge today is to engage the community and make youth homelessness everyone’s business.

“Now that winter is here, it is important for our communities to get involved even if it is something as easy as providing those in need with a warm meal.” Oasis Director Major Keith Hampton said. “We encourage every Australian to look after our youth, especially those already disadvantaged, because they are our future.”

Yfoundations website