St John’s Youth Services (SJYS) breaks the cycle of homelessness before it can take hold of young lives. We work with young people aged 16 to 25, who are experiencing or at serious risk of homelessness. As well as individuals, we support young parents and their dependent children, and accommodate single mums or dads and their children, as well as couples.
Originally established in 1981 as a young men’s night shelter in 1981, SJYS evolved to support young people and dependent children in short-term, collegiate based accommodation. While these shelters provided safety and temporary relief from homelessness, they weren’t enough to change the direction of young lives. Young people left the shelters only to return again and again, becoming trapped in a cycle of homelessness, institutionalization and dependency that overwhelmed their capacity to move forward.
Creating real and lasting change required an innovative response, so SJYS sought a new way to work with young people that would break the cycle of homelessness for good. This resulted in the closure of the shelters, the opening of the world’s first apartment-based youth crisis service, youth110, and South Australia’s first Foyer accommodation complex, Ladder St Vincent Street.
While these services achieve outstanding outcomes, more is needed to ensure that when the time comes to move on from supported accommodation, young people have the skills they need to put homelessness behind them for good. The solution is Next Step, an innovative program designed to build upon the unique relationship established with the young people who have used our accommodation services.
The multi-award winning Next Step is an intensive, individualised and long-term solution to homelessness that equips young people with the skills they need to succeed. Young people are supported to move into independence by ensuring access to the private rental market, engagement with work or education and connection to their local communities. This strengths-based approach focuses on each young person’s capacity to overcome the challenges that have led them into homelessness, and to take control of their future. Since it was established in 2008, Next Step has achieved an astonishing success rate. Over the past five years, over 500 young people experiencing homelessness have been through the Next Step program. Of these, approximately 450 (or 90%) have broken the cycle of homelessness and are still successfully living in private rental accommodation.