SCU Gold Coast chaplain Kate Morris, Masters of Social Work student Angie Walker and YHAF CEO John Lee.
SCU Gold Coast chaplain Kate Morris, Masters of Social Work student Angie Walker and YHAF CEO John Lee. Contributed

Students sleeping rough for homeless

SOUTHERN Cross University students will sleep rough at their Coolangatta campus tonight to raise money and awareness for the thousands of homeless people living in the region.

The SCU team, which includes staff and students from Mt St Patrick College in Murwillumbah, will raise much-needed funds for the work of charity You Have a Friend, run by SCU alumnus John Lee.

The event, named Jimbo's Sleep Out for the Homeless in memory of homeless man Jimbo who died in 2008 after spending years on the streets of Tweed and Coolangatta, runs from 6pm tonight (August 25)to 7am tomorrow, with games, trivia, a movie and John Lee as guest speaker.

It follows a similar sleepout for the homeless run by Fred's Place at Banora Point recently.

Mr Lee, who founded the charity in 2009, graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science from Southern Cross University in 2014.

"There is a huge lack of housing in the Tweed area, which we are trying to address through our charity,” Mr Lee said.

"There are currently more than 1000 people waiting for housing assistance with a current wait list of 20 years.

"We provide more than 300 meals a week to the Tweed and Northern Rivers, and the population of Tweed is set to increase almost 50% in the next decade with no affordable housing options.

"Almost a third of women will face domestic violence issues which often results in women moving into their car to escape abuse - we know about 30 women with children living in cars.”

Current SCU Master in Social Work student Jesse Caba is the first student to shadow John Lee. He is using the opportunity to conduct a study on the prevalence of homelessness in the area.

The 28-year-old Canadian said he felt particularly drawn to help vulnerable communities.

"People have a warped perception of homelessness - it's not what you expect,” he said.

"Homeless people are very willing to help us out with outreach and they want to put the work in, they often just need someone to give them a chance.”



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