CARING SUPPORT: Chris Stenton is getting his life back on track with the help of not-for-profit organisation United Synergies.
CARING SUPPORT: Chris Stenton is getting his life back on track with the help of not-for-profit organisation United Synergies. Warren Lynam

What life's really like in crisis homes and on the street

PLAYGROUNDS and covered parks are offering our youth more than just a place of leisure, quite often they are giving them a home.

For five years Chris Stenton has battled life on and off the streets, where he said his safest option was to sleep in the slides of local playgrounds.

"Most of them are undercover so you can hide in the playground and try and sleep as best you can," he said.

"I tried the beach once. I didn't like it because it was too cold."

Suffering through various family-based conflicts that caused him to take to the streets, Mr Stenton said he found himself in a vicious cycle that left him feeling isolated and shattered.

"This is my ninth time being in the crisis house," he said. "You feel down, you feel like you've let yourself down and the people around you down.

"You feel destroyed emotionally and physically you feel exhausted."

But at just 21-years-old Mt Stenton is not alone. According to Homelessness Australia, 40.7 per cent of the 20,000 homeless individuals in Queensland are under the age of 24.

This is where United Synergies comes to the rescue. The non-for- profit organisation runs a homelessness support program that houses young kids and introduces them to support services to help get their lives back on track.

Since returning to the crisis refuge home 10 weeks ago, Mr Stenton said he had been able to secure a part-time job, get on top of his finances and even return to study to complete his Year 12 certificate.

"I want to encourage people to look for that helping hand. There is nothing wrong with it. We all need a bit of help every now and again."

He is now completing a bridging course at the University of the Sunshine Coast and hopes to continue his studies to eventually begin a career in voice animation.

While he admits he has made some mistakes in the past Mr Stenton said he is always learning from them, he hopes to encourage other struggling young people to reach out to institutions such as United Synergies.


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