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Stabilising homeless families

16 February 2012

Stabilising homeless families

It is so sad that our service is just growing and growing. It would be lovely if we weren’t needed any longer!” - Lana Luxford

While incredibly thankful for the opportunity to move into a new office building, The Salvation Army’s Toowoomba (Qld) Crisis Accommodation service manager Lana Luxford says she would be very happy to close the service down, because that would mean that somehow the issue of local homelessness had been solved.

However, Lana says, the reality is the numbers of single men, families with children or single mums and dads presenting to the service continually grow.

The Toowoomba service had completely outgrown the old building, which was purchased many years ago by a bequest, and will be sold to cover the purchase of the new building.

The new offices act as an administration hub for 17 crisis houses, as well as case managers and a wide range of services.

She says: “My office was like a shoe box. We had one interview room for family crisis accommodation, men’s crisis accommodation, the outreach worker, the budget counsellor – and it was so bad we actually converted one of the linen cupboards into a very, very small room for two support workers.

“We now have beautiful interview rooms and offices. Then we have a whole new section upstairs, with our new expanded Moneycare financial counselling service.”

As well as providing crisis accommodation, the service works intensively to support clients to deal with the issues that brought about their homelessness.

She says: “One lovely guy Greg* arrived after sleeping rough for some time. His belongings were in a garbage bag and he was pushing a shopping trolley. Greg had a wild woolly hairdo down around his shoulders and a big full- faced beard.

“We put him into single men’s accommodation and staff worked with him for two to three months.

“Greg moved on from us and somehow he managed to get two of the children back into his care.”

Lana says that the men’s service manager Stan Gittins was distressed to hear Greg was living in a caravan park with the kids, so a team organised entry into The Salvation Army family crisis accommodation in Toowoomba.

She says: “Greg progressed beautifully.

“We got him into the base hospital into one of their drug and alcohol programs. He started coming to church and the kids got involved in our holiday programs.

“He ended up moving into his own rental home and we continued to work hard with him.”

He later got his third and fourth child back.

“He now runs his home so well for himself and his four children, cooks them lovely meals and the kids are just beautiful.

“Seeing this wild guy wandering in with his stuff in a garbage bag – I could never have imagined how things could change in a few short years,” she says.

*name changed

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