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No, I’m not a bad speller.  I meant to spell STREAT like that.  You see, while she sleeps in her own bed tonight, in about 18 hours, my friend Karen will be getting ready to sleep on the street.  It’s all for a good cause and I’m really proud of her.

You see, Bendigo Bank and STREAT have got together to raise funds to help homeless youth.  Sometimes we have preconceived ideas of WHO homeless people are, WHY they are homeless, WHERE they came from and WHAT we think of them.  I probably used to think the same and yes, some are homeless because they don’t want to follow rules.  But a lot of people of all ages are homeless for a whole variety of reasons.

In Australia, at least 105,000 people are without a bed every night.  These people range from children to the elderly and come from all walks of life.  Homelessness affects all sorts of people for all different reasons.  Only last year, after an altercation with a landlord that ended up with me being physically assaulted, I almost found myself in the same situation.   I was exceptionally lucky to find housing through a woman’s housing centre who just happened to have a vacant place there and then.  I was one of the lucky ones.  Not everyone is so lucky.

Rents are skyrocketing and as there is a shortage of affordable housing, you may find yourself competing with 50 other “wannabe” renters for a particular property.  Then there’s 4 weeks bond PLUS 4 weeks rent in advance you’d have to find if you were lucky enough to be chosen for a property.  If your rent is $300 a week which is relatively low these days, that is $2400 you have to find straight up, before you even consider moving costs.  Honestly, that is astronomical for someone on a lower income.  Actually, that’s hard to dig up for MOST people.

So to draw attention to homelessness and to raise funds to keep STREAT’s programs going, Karen and many of her colleagues are going to sleep at Melbourne Central on Friday 20th September.  (you’ll find them Community Garden, Level 2, the walkway above Lonsdale Street).  If you want to go along and join in the activities from 6pm through to 9pm, they’d love your company.  There’ll be lots to do before the sleepers settle in for the night.

It costs STREAT $280,000 a year to run their youth hospitality and life skills training programs and every cent raised through Sleepless in September goes towards helping fund these training programs.  To actually train someone boosts their self esteem and helps them to become who they were meant to be.  Let’s get behind this great cause.  You can help by donating or if you are in town and feel like joining in, head on down there.  If you want to donate online, this is the link to Karen’s team..  Karen’s Sleepless in September

I’ve included some information from the website about STREAT, who they are and what they do.  I hope you find it useful.   And as you lay in your warm bed spare a thought for those who don’t have a warm bed to sleep in.

Happy Sleeping… Livvy

What is STREAT?

STREAT is a not for profit social enterprise that provides homeless youth with the life-skills training and full wrap around social support they require to start working towards a career in the hospitality industry. STREAT currently runs three cafes and a coffee roasting and catering business in and around Melbourne’s CBD, in which the young people receive their training in food and coffee preparation and customer service. Trainees can undertake various short courses and/or enter 10 week or 20 week programs which lead to Certificate I and II qualifications in hospitality.

STREAT’s founders, Rebecca Scott and Kate Barrelle, were inspired by KOTO, a training program and restaurant providing street youth with job opportunities in Vietnam. They kick-started STREAT in 2010 with two small food carts in Melbourne’s Federation Square and a class of nine trainees. STREAT has grown rapidly and now sold around 500,000 meals and coffees and provided over 7,000 days of training and work experience to 100 local street youth. Many have gone on to further education or found their first job. Two trainees from that first class are now fully qualified Chef’s in Melbourne.

STREAT recently won a national award for being Australia’s Most Innovative Social Enterprise.