The local supporting rough sleepers through building connections
Kit Regan believes that supporting people to make healthier and happier changes is done through building real meaningful connections, and it is a mission they live out.
As a peer worker in the cohealth City Street Health team, Kit spends five days a week walking the streets of the city and checking in with people who may be sleeping rough or dealing with other mental health conditions.
Coming to the role with lived experience and in a city that they know so well, has really cemented in Kit just how life changing this role can be for those struggling.
“I have a lived experience of homelessness and substance use in the city of Melbourne, as it was where I was sleeping rough and living in crisis accommodation,” Kit said.
“I really wanted to be part of a team that was doing outreach work and working in the community that I was a part of, making changes and supporting people to live happier and healthier lives.”
“I really love this work and being able to get to know people where they are sitting at that moment and having conversations about what their lives are like and what is important to them.”
Sitting down with new and old friends they meet when doing outreach work has allowed for Kit to adequately respond to the needs of those they speak to.
And talking to people in a city that they know so well, that has seen them go through so much in life, has been particularly heartwarming and motivating for Kit.
“I really like being able to continue doing this work and supporting and helping people to continue to make changes in an environment I know so well, that I grew up in, lived in, and work in,” they said.
Between supporting people to make sustainable changes, Kit also likes to escape to their “special safe place” of The Dome reading room in the State Library.
As the space that Kit uses to “calm and recentre” themselves, the reading room also helps them to regain the strength and determination they need to continue to guide people towards a life off the streets and away from substance use.
The cohealth City Street Health team program began in December 2021 with the support of the Victorian Government and operates seven days a week, between the hours of 10am to 10pm on weekdays and 10am to 6pm on weekends.
The multidisciplinary team also consists of community nurses, an addiction medicine doctor, harm reduction workers, a dual diagnosis clinician, and an activities and inclusion worker.
Combining a multitude of professions and skills together has ultimately allowed for the team to be able to act immediately or link people up with long-term support. •
Photo credit – Eugene Hyland