There is a new player on Canberra’s streets, with local charity Raw Potential officially launching its new Outreach Van on Thursday.
The van will help the organisation continue its current quest insupporting homeless and disadvantaged youth, in a mobile fashion.
Raw Potential Chairman Paul Kane said the van was made possible by the support of many local businesses in the Canberra region.
“About 12 months ago we had a fundraiser day organised by P² and they raised $180,000 of which they gave us half because they liked the idea of a mobile outreach van,” he said.
“Something new, something innovative into Canberra that would make a difference to at-risk and vulnerable kids in the community.
In collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Canberra, the charity has now unveiled the van, decked out with spinning seats and a meeting style table to connect with clients.
Mercedes-Benz Canberra vans manager Daniel Frith said it was an important cause to be involved in.
“We are a relatively small and wealthy population and there is a relatively small amount of kids that are disadvantaged here compared to somewhere like Melbourne or Sydney,” he said.
“It should not be a problem here and it is not outside the realms of being fixed.”
Previously, outreach workers such as Gabe Penn would meet with and provide services to disadvantaged or at-risk youth at the St John’s Care drop-in centre in Reid.
“We work on establishing what needs young people have and what direction they want to go in, so it has to be led by them in order to be successful,” Ms Penn said.
“That’s as simple as getting healthcare needs assessed and attended to, mental health needs attended to, some have addiction issues, unfortunately.
“It’s limitless really and it’s directed to what they need and what they want for a better life.”
On average, the Outreach workers could see between two and four clients each day, helping them fill out Centrelink forms, housing applications and access health and counselling services.
Ms Penn said launching the Outreach van amid the pandemic was the best time to be offering support.
“It’s hit young people particularly hard; a lot have lost employment or had their hours reduced,” she said.
“A lot have been put back into family situations out of necessity where there is a lot more tension because there is less money coming in. Young people are really struggling just to get by.”
The organisation has also had its fair share of challenges during COVID-19.
“One-third of our revenue has dropped off because of our inability to do our charity events,” Mr Kane said.
“What that means is our board have had to double down and work much harder.”
Raw Potential are currently holding an appeal and are taking donations online.
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