Bethlehem House is Southern Tasmania’s only homelessness shelter exclusively supporting men. Staff member Jeff has been a team member at Bethlehem House for four years and he loves his work. Having previously managed large teams in the disability sector and running a business responsible for fitting out the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’, Jeff says he really enjoys coming to work knowing he is directly supporting people to feel safe and catch their breath whilst they work out their next steps.
When asked Jeff to describe the best part of his job, he says it is knowing that he and his co-workers have a unique opportunity to improve men’s lives. “When men stay with us, it means they are pretty vulnerable, so to be able to offer a bed, a meal and some support, every day, that’s a good feeling that you can’t really get in many other jobs.”
Jeff points out that there is a much higher correlation between mental health and homelessness than many people may think. “I’d say at least 70% of the guys here are experiencing some sort of mental health issue.”
Like so many workers in the sector, Jeff has a self-care plan. It consists of regular debriefs, self-reflection, coupled with sound forward planning and realistic strategies in place for how he could manage the variety of situations that working in the shelter may present. “There’s always something you can do to help someone, it’s important to have strategies in place for when difficult situations arise.”
When relating MHCT’s ‘Moving towards a mentally healthy Tasmania’ campaign back to his work in the service, Jeff feels that priority must be given to ensuring better access to step-up, step-down supported housing facilities for men transitioning from hospital and into a semi-supported arrangement. “Some of our men get offered houses, but they may not be ready to live independently, so we see that housing arrangements fall over because other more supported options aren’t available”
Mental health Council of Tasmania is passionate about our role representing and advocating for our Members. Bethlehem house works around the clock to provide hope and secure, safe housing options for some of Tasmania’s most vulnerable individuals. To learn more about their service, check out www.bethlehemhouse.org.au #forallofus