Capturing all that has been achieved in the last 12 months and mapping our future intentions, Dignity’s 2022/2023 Annual Report highlights the current issues facing people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, celebrates our major milestones and recognises all of the sponsors, donors, partners and volunteers who have collaborated with us as we empower people to prevent, respond to and end their homelessness.
Over the past 12 months, we have increased our focus on assisting people to stay in their homes by easing the financial burden of putting food on the table. At a time when living costs are challenging for many people, this is a critical step in homelessness prevention.
Food relief not only reduces a person’s weekly grocery bill, importantly, collecting the meals from a community centre such as PCYC also provides access to additional support services if needed.
Dignity has distributed 54,500 food relief meals in the last 12 months, a 27% increase in meals on the previous year. Sadly, the growing demand for food relief is indicative of the growth in number of people living on the edge of homelessness.
In an effort to meet the demand, we are planning to increase the number of meals we distribute into the community considerably and we are very thankful to our Food Relief partner, Youfoodz, who are showing their commitment to Australians in need by doubling the number of meals they donate each month to 3,000 meals.
This month, Dignity was fortunate enough to receive a grant as part of the Australian Government’s 2022-2023 Volunteer Grant initiative to help us support our volunteers, who prepare home-made meals, to carry out the important work that they do.
We welcomed Federal Member for Fowler, Dai Le, to PCYC Liverpool to learn more about how food relief impacts communities in the local and surrounding areas.
We were excited to show ABC News through Dignity’s Ready To Work Housing to demonstrate the impact this new program is having on the lives of our new residents.
Ready To Work is not just about providing stable housing, it aims to increase affordability through employment and wrap around services to empower those who are ready to work to break the cycle of homelessness.
Innovative, new program provides people experiencing homelessness with housing, an employment opportunity and support to break the cycle of homelessness and increase housing affordability.
Nationally recognised homelessness services charity, Dignity, has today launched Ready To Work Housing, in partnership with Fantastic Furniture. This innovative and unique program provides 22 people who are experiencing homelessness with safe, stable housing for up to 12 months; an employment opportunity; and on-site support to ensure participants have the wrap-around support they need to progress through the program and increase housing security.
Homelessness can happen to anyone and more than 116,000 Australians are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Homelessness is a problem that Dignity believes can be solved through collaboration and by empowering people in crisis to restore their dignity.
With a vision of scaling its impact in the homelessness sector, Dignity developed the new Ready To Work Housing program in collaboration with the program’s major sponsor Fantastic Furniture and other companies in the business sector; government and non-government agencies; and charity partners, to address the barriers people experiencing homelessness face finding employment.
“Ready To Work has been designed to drive lasting reductions in the number of Australians experiencing homelessness as well as increasing affordability. At a time when housing is simply unaffordable for many people, the Ready To Work program empowers residents to break the cycle of homelessness for good.”
Dignity CEO, Suzanne Hopman
The 22 brand-new Ready To Work studio units are located in Campbelltown, NSW, and fully furnished by program partner Fantastic Furniture and appliances supplied by the Winnings Group. A common room and garden will encourage a sense of community among residents with BBQ facilities, vegetable garden and Dignity Food Relief freezers stocked with volunteer-made meals.
Fantastic Furniture CEO and Dignity Chair, Kieron Ritchard, commented, “Fantastic Furniture has been a long-time partner and supporter of Dignity and this program aligned with our belief that every Australian deserves a home that’s safe, happy and sustainable. We know securing and maintaining employment is key to sustainable transitions out of homelessness and into stable housing and that is the end goal of the program.”
“Not only were we able to provide the furniture to make these new units feel like an inviting new home, but we have also provided employment opportunities for the new residents and they are proving to be Fantastic employees.”
Fantastic Furniture CEO, Kieron Ritchard
Addressing the barriers that many people experiencing homelessness face, Ready To Work participants are provided with everything they need for their 12-month housing placement and new job. This includes a mobile phone with free data and calls, internet connection in their unit and access to a new wardrobe of clothes, shoes and accessories thanks to our charity partner, Thread Together. The on-site ‘Dressing Room’ contains clothes suitable for all occasions including interview attire, work gear, and casual clothing.
Ready To Work Housing program participant, John* said, “I was living in my car, I had nowhere to go. Dignity has not only helped get me out of my car and off the streets, they’ve helped me get back into work and that means a lot. The support that they’ve given me, and this program is amazing. And I love my job! Each day I’m so excited about going to work.”
To record, measure and understand Dignity’s social impact, we created and use a tailor-made system and software (DigInS – Dignity Informatics System) to collect data including emerging trends, wellbeing at different stages and outcomes.
While this has significantly improved the quality of the data that we collect and analyse to provide insights into the trends within the homelessness sector, we identified a need to further measure the impact we were having on our guests’ personal wellbeing.
The Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) is a measuring tool that will do just that. It is designed to measure subjective wellbeing and centres around the answers (on a scale of 1 to 10) to 7 key questions.
This enhanced measurement tool is currently being implemented at Dignity’s longer-term intergenerational living residence and will play an integral part in measuring and reporting Dignity’s social impact.