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SCU sleep out for the homeless


Jessica Huxley
22 August 2016
Southern Cross University students will sleep rough at the Gold Coast campus on Thursday night to raise money and awareness for the thousands of homeless people living in the region.

The SCU team, which includes staff and students from Mt St Patrick College in Murwillumbah, will raise much-needed funds for the work of charity You Have a Friend, run by SCU alumnus John Lee.

The event runs from 6pm Thursday August 25 to 7am Friday August 26 with games, trivia, a movie and John Lee as guest speaker.

Mr Lee, who founded the charity in 2009, graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science from Southern Cross University in 2014.

“There is a huge lack of housing in the Tweed area, which we are trying to address through our charity,” Mr Lee said.

“There are more than 1000 people waiting for housing assistance with a current wait list of 20 years.

“We provide more than 300 meals a week to the Tweed and Northern Rivers, and the population of Tweed is set to increase almost 50 per cent in the next decade with no affordable housing options.

“Almost a third of women will face domestic violence issues which often results in women moving into their car to escape abuse – we know about 30 women with children living in cars.”

Current SCU Master in Social Work student Jesse Caba is the first student to shadow John Lee. He is using the opportunity to conduct a study on the prevalence of homelessness in the area.

The 28-year-old Canadian said he felt particularly drawn to help vulnerable communities including the homeless and wants to work in the sector.

“People have a warped perception of homelessness – it’s not what you expect,” he said.

“Homeless people are very willing to help us out with outreach and they want to put the work in, they often just need someone to give them a chance.

“This placement enables me to conduct research about how many people are engaging with homeless services in the area, and who is hitting what issues where.”

It is the first time Jesse will take part in Jimbo’s Sleep Out for the Homeless – named after homeless man Jimbo who died in 2008 after spending years on the streets of Tweed and Coolangatta.

“I just hope we get a good turnout of people who show their support,” he said.

Event organisers Gold Coast SCU chaplain Kate Morris and postgraduate student Angie Walker said all money raised from participants who slept outside or in their cars at the Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus on Thursday night would go directly to You Have a Friend.

For more information email [email protected]

Photo caption: SCU Gold Coast Chaplain Kate Morris, Masters of Social Work student Angie Walker and YHAF CEO John Lee.