Homeless men at Bethlehem House are to benefit from an additional $583,000 for a new support program aimed at teaching life skills and improving their chances of a successful recovery from periods of homelessness.

Thanks to a successful grant deed from the Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF) and an allocation of funds from donations to Bethlehem House, the program will run for four years and hopes to reach 300 homeless men.

The programme is a collaboration including literacy, understanding finance, using computers, budgeting and household finances and improving relationship skills. Participants will re-engage with communities and build sustainable support systems.

Bethlehem House CEO, Stephanie Kirkman Meikle said this unique funding and program is well-timed and most welcome. It is tailored to make a difference in the lives of homeless men who otherwise would experience up to 6 episodes of prolonged homelessness in their lives.

“Thanks to the funding, we’ve been able to provide additional staff to deliver the program, which will lead to better outcomes for our residents, now that we are able to provide additional workshops and specialist resources to prepare them ready for life on their own, in their own place.”

Stephanie Kirkman Meikle – CEO Bethlehem House

The program partners are Chatter Matters, for literacy support 1:1, with a small team of volunteer helpers, Hobart Library staff teaching computer use, at Bethlehem House, and a range of specialist providers to be brought in to deliver support with finances, relationships and mental health issues. Bethlehem House staff will receive training support in motivational interviewing techniques from the Drug Education Network (DEN).

The impact and success of the program will be measured throughout the four years by University of Tasmania, Lecturer in Behaviour Management, Unit coordinator, Dr Jeff Thomas.

Our application the TCF was able to demonstrate whole of community benefit. When men are able to recover from homelessness and build up their ability to live independently, the whole community benefits.

‘The program took a couple of years to plan and we made more than one application to the TCF in that time. I can’t tell you how delighted we are to receive the grant funding. It’s very tight trying to provide all the support and accommodation that our residents require and getting tougher. We just want to do the best we possibly can for our residents and to continue to keep in touch after they move back into the community, to see that our program has helped and that they are continuing to manage independently’

The independent community funding body, the Tasmanian Community Fund was established following the sale of the Trust Bank in 1999 to give back to the community the proceeds from the sale of a community asset. Since that time the TCF has allocated approximately $58.6 million to approximately 1700 statewide projects.

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