Youth Sleep Out in Bellingen

Join the Youth Sleep Out is on Friday, June 29This is one of the first times this event has been run in the Bellingen Shire and it is inspired by the Salvo’s Couch Project which was run nation-wide on the 8th June.

The Youth Sleep Out is on Friday, June 29, at Maam Gaduying Park, outside Council, and it is an alcohol and drug free.

Everyone is welcome aged 18 and under, we encourage you to come along well equipped for the cool weather, with winter woolies, blankets, swags, and sleeping mats etc. Registration with collection of parental permission forms starts at 5pm on the Friday. A few gazebos and marquees will be set up in the park for young people to sleep under for the night. A gazebo will be specifically set up as a lounge room in alignment with “The Couch Project”.

The aim of the event it to raise awareness about youth homelessness and couch surfing. Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre and Bellingen Shire Youth Service are coordinating the sleep out, however there will be no fundraising and primarily focusing on raising awareness. There is no refuge or youth specific accommodation currently in Bellingen and in addition not a lot of understanding about the issues at stake and the severity of it. The aim is to get as many young people involved, making the youth in Bellingen feel more supported and in addition bring the community together around this very important issue.

Youth organization’s around the shire are collaborating and coming together to run workshops, raise awareness, increase accessibility and be part of the sleep out for the entire evening. At this stage there will be staff and volunteers from NORTEC, Bellingen Youth Space, Bellingen Mentor Group, and the Community Drug Action Team, Urunga Reconnect, Dorrigo Youth Clinic, Venturer’s and more. There will also be security and plenty of mature adult supervision.

AND there will also be amazing talented local musicians from Bellingen High School and from the Bellingen Community to keep people entertained through the evening.

On the menu for the night there will be plenty of free food. To start off with there will be an amazing sausage sizzle, with sausages handmade and donated from Bellingen Butchery, (veggie options are also available), and pumpkin soup will be served throughout the night to keep everyone warm with fresh bread rolls from the Salvo’s. The pumpkins have been locally sourced from the High School Community Garden and Bellingen IGA is providing sauce, potatoes and onions. To start the early Saturday morning off, there will be hot bacon and egg rolls cooked by the Community Drug Action Team. A big thank you for all the support and input from local businesses.

INTERESTING FACTS (Maybe include some of them if there is space in the article?):

•A total of 104,676 Australians are considered to be homeless

•One third or about 32,000 are homeless young people between the ages of 12-25 years

•The number of homeless teenagers (aged 12-18) nearly doubled to 22,000 over the last 20 years

•The most common reasons behind why young people are homeless are to with; relationship/family breakdown with parents, siblings and extended family; domestic violence/child abuse; drug and alcohol abuse; mental health issues; financial difficulty/unemployment; eviction/accommodation ended; and or being kicked out or feeling unwanted.

The key impacts of being homeless are poor health and little access to medical treatment; no support network – no social, recreational or cultural ties; low education (basic numeracy and literacy) levels; low self esteem and increased anxiety; behavioural issues and mental illness; may become involved in criminal or illegal activity to survive and or no work experience or job training.

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