HIT 105.5FM’s Ben Stevenson steps up awareness of Coffs Coast homelessness

Ben Stevenson’s walk from Red Rock to Sawtell this week.

 

THE homelessness issue across the Coffs Coast must sit front and centre with our local politicians because it’s only getting worse and now affects working people – that’s the driving inspiration for local HIT 105.5FM Coffs Coast broadcaster Ben Stevenson’s walk from Red Rock to Sawtell this week.

It coincides with Ben launching his podcast: Coffs In Crisis – Solving Our Housing Shortage.

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“As a resident of Coffs Harbour, I noticed the growing trend in a shortage of housing particularly in rentals.

“I was looking for a place myself earlier this year and found it quite tough and what I’ve learned is that it’s only getting worse.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about the working homeless which is really quite concerning.

“The battle was always people without jobs, vulnerable people; what can we do to get them back onto their feet, get them back into a job and then get them a place to live.

“But now it’s teachers, nurses, essential workers – people with jobs can’t find houses in the area.

“It’s what inspired the walk – I want to make a bit of noise for the podcast to get people talking and demand attention from the politicians.”

We’re all aware of walking past a homeless person and pretending they’re not there or maybe we don’t want to acknowledge the problem exists, noted Ben.

“I spoke with Dean Evers (Founder, Hope for the Homeless, Coffs Harbour) on the podcast about this.

“He said, rather than say you don’t have any money, say ‘I’m just going into the shop, do you want anything?’

“They’re not asking us to fix the situation, but the least we can do is acknowledge them as human beings.

“That would go a very long way for their self-esteem.”

In his research Ben has found that older women make up the fastest growing demographic at risk of being homeless, “because historically they get paid less and therefore didn’t earn as much Super, and they stayed at home looking after the kids”.

The issues have existed for a long time and COVID has accelerated them and shown the cracks in the system.

“COVID put a lot of people out of work and for older people they’d been working all their life and then found that there really wasn’t much of a safety net for them.”

So, Ben put on his walking boots to step up awareness amongst politicians about the realities of Coffs’ homelessness.

Walking the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk from Red Rock to Sawtell, the route took Ben through daily broadcasting stops in Woolgoolga, Emerald Beach, Park Beach and arriving in Sawtell on Friday 26 November.

Listen to Ben’s first episode on the podcast: https://omny.fm/shows/coffs-coast-1055 and get the facts from his conversations with guest speakers, Emma Belcher – Housing Matters Group, Dean Evers, Cathy Callaghan – Shelter NSW, Jesse Taylor – Mission Australia and Julie Crockett – Her Investment Property.

 

By Andrea FERRARI

 

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