Above: Some YPOP participants enjoying a bit of archery
By Jimmy Acosta, Manager of the Young People’s Outreach Program (YPOP), South-Eastern Sydney
For three years now, YPOP Kogarah has been supporting young people aged between 16 and 25 who are living with mental health issues in the South-Eastern Sydney local health district. The only criteria is that they must be referred through the South-eastern Sydney local mental health community service. If somebody is outside of our geographical range, there are other programs in Western Sydney, the Nepean, Hawkesbury and the Hunter that are quite similar. They are known as Youth Community Living Support Services (YCLSS), and they share a lot of similarities.
What does YPOP do?
We go from Cronulla to Bondi and Hurstville to Maroubra to help the young people with their day to day goals. Our visits are either conducted in their homes or somewhere local where they feel safe and comfortable. Most of the young people we work with live at home with their families, but some have subsidised accommodation through different services. We usually operate Monday to Sunday from 10am, as most of the people who access our service have reported not being morning people!
When we first meet a young person, we allow them to identify exactly where they need support. We don’t tell them, “You should do this, or you should do that.” I can tell them that the overall goal for anybody who receives help from YPOP is to enable them to live a healthy and independent life, whatever that may mean for them personally. Depending on what their goals are, the nature of our program can look very different from one person to another. If they need something more specialised, something beyond our skill set, we will link them in with another service that can support them.
“Our program can look so different from one person to the other depending on what their goals are.” – Jimmy Acosta
Many people just need a bit of support for their social anxiety so they have the confidence to achieve their personal goals independently. For other people, it may mean having a real conversation for the first time in years, or to simply step outside of their house. We provide the opportunity to develop life skills such as cooking, budgeting, job preparation, pathways into study and so on. We also provide social outings so that the people who access our services can have positive social experiences with other young people in a safe and supported environment. These outings might be bowling, the movies or even archery. It depends what the young people prefer to do. The Flourish Australia bi-annual Youth Camp has also been a big hit, too.
As a lot of the young people we work with have missed out on many milestones, such as school formals, we’ve been discussing is running a “formal” similar to what you would have at the end of school. I am also in the middle of organising a workshop that will give the young people the opportunity to do some team building and lifeskills activities alongside some service dogs and horses.
Most young people who access our service will complete their goals with 6 to 12 months, but there are a handful who have been in the program for longer than that. It’s always great to see people move into independent living, full-time jobs or enrol in university. Sometimes, they may even decide to become community workers.
YPOP will continue to operate as it has for the last three years, but the NDIS funding will allow us to have a bit more freedom in supporting more people than we currently do. Under the NDIS we will be able to offer support to anyone who would like to have Flourish Australia as one of their support providers. Our team is really looking forward to making a difference in more lives. We are told every day by families, young people and clinicians that we are such a unique service, and we wish we could provide our service to more young people.
As told to Grant J Everett
Flourish Australia Y-POP
St George Community Mental Health Centre,
Level 1, 15 Kensington Street KOGARAH NSW 2217
1300 779 270