Geraldton’s crisis hostel changing young lives

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
STAY resident James Fletcher, right, with University of Western Australia student Lucy Moogan, left, and STAY agency manager Amanda Brunelli.
Camera IconSTAY resident James Fletcher, right, with University of Western Australia student Lucy Moogan, left, and STAY agency manager Amanda Brunelli. Credit: Francesca Mann, The Geraldton Guardian

James Fletcher has only been living at STAY for a couple of weeks but he says he’s settled right in.

The 18-year-old is one of the new residents at Short Term Accommodation for Youth, a crisis hostel in Geraldton for young people aged 15 to 25.

One corner of the hostel’s front room has been taken over by Mr Fletcher, who has set up computer monitors and gaming consoles he can tinker away on.

While Mr Fletcher loves to spend his spare time recoding video games, he said he was looking forward to using new outdoor equipment STAY purchased through a $155,828 Lotterywest grant.

Among the new gear are surfboards, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.

But Mr Fletcher, who is completing his Certificate II in Information and Technology, said he was most excited about the bikes.

“I want to use the bike to ride to school,” he said.

“I’m in my last term and I’m so excited (to graduate).”

Last week Minister for Housing and Youth Peter Tinley visited the facility on Quarry Street to present the cheque, and chat with residents and staff over a cup of tea.

The funding has also been used to refurbish the 30-year-old hostel and to buy a car, which allows the team to drive residents to education and employment opportunities, and counselling sessions.

STAY agency manager Amanda Brunelli said the grant had helped improve the facility for both residents and staff members.

“Young people come to us faced with significant trauma and they’re often disengaged from education or work,” she said.

“We try and bring the best out in them and give them the opportunities other young people have, all the milestones, like passing their driving test.

“We (the staff) are all parents and we simulate what we’ve been fortunate enough to give to our own kids.”

A team of 10 run the facility 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

The facility has enough beds for eight young people, with residents staying anywhere from two nights to a year.

But with just four bedrooms, residents often have to share a room with a stranger, which one young woman said she found “weird”.

Ms Brunelli said plans were in motion to improve the facility by adding more rooms.

“When I was 17 I turned up to a youth service and had to share a room with someone I didn’t know,” she said.

“While (the extension) is not more bums in beds, it allows them to stay longer and it improves the outcomes and successfulness in transitioning to private rentals.”

STAY was first established in 1985 and has been based on Quarry Street since 1991.

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