Youth with experience speak out about homelessness

SAFE: Bryce Jones, Jasmine Conn and their good friend Indy Smith.

SAFE: Bryce Jones, Jasmine Conn and their good friend Indy Smith.

LOCAL homeless numbers have more than doubled in the past 12 months, a troubling statistic for Homeless Prevention Week that runs until Sunday.

Pathfinders’ Specialist Homelessness statistics have seen a rise of 75 percent, from 62 to 170 homeless children, youth women and men since September, 2014 in Inverell and Glen Innes.

The numbers would not be surprising to young Inverell couple Jasmine Conn and Bryce Jones.

Jasmine is on the cusp of 18 and did not enjoy the stable life many children enjoy.

Placed in foster care at age 5, Jasmine landed with her grandmother at age 16.

Her former boyfriend lived with the two women, but Jasmine said he was kicked out of the house after he abused her grandmother.

“So I went too, and then once we went to Armidale, he turned very vicious and very violent,” she said.

Without a youth refuge in Inverell, she entered the Pathfinders Youth Refuge in Armidale and found stability.

“The refuge was good because it taught you living skills, like cleaning, cooking, your budget, your money and all that, it just helped me out so much.

She said the refuge helped people look for housing and a job.

Jasmine said an Inverell youth refuge might assuage anxiety caused by separation from friends and family. 

“Most of these kids these days have got depression or anxiety or something like that that’s caused through loss of parents, or put somewhere where they’ve got no one that they know, and getting pulled away from their friends and family just wrecks them,” she said.

“If we but if we did something, like a fundraiser or something to get some money up to go towards getting a youth refuge or something, that would be good.”

Jasmine’s partner Bryce is 22 his family asked him to leave home due to his drug use.

He cut ties with his family and drifted from Sydney to Melbourne over the next two years, sleeping rough or couch surfing, and battled his heroin addiction.

“Not proud of myself for some of the stuff I’ve done, I admit, but you know, when you’re in desperate measures like that, you’ve got to do something like that to survive,” he said.

“If that doesn’t happen you’re going to die, and bad as that may sound, it’s hard. It’s hard out there in this world today.”

Bryce said his recovery really began when his brother found him on the floor at a train station.

“If it wasn’t for my brother, I’d probably still be in the mess that I was in about three years ago,” he said.

“I’d probably still be homeless to this day.”

Now Bryce makes a point of offering a hot meal and shower to anybody he comes across in a state of need.

Jasmine will tell her story at the Pathfinders Specialist Homelessness Services event to celebrate the resilience of homeless on Wednesday, August 5 in Campbell Park.

The free event at 11am features a lot of free food, tea and coffee, music, lucky door prize and fun children’s activities, beginning at 11am.

Scheduled are a hip hop workshop with DukeBox Bailey, music by Pete Denovan and the two performing together.

Donations of blankets would be very welcome on the day for the Blanket Run to provide blankets to those in need during the cold nights ahead.

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