I've lived in three different countries. 

This is what home means to me.

Homelessness Week (August 1-7) aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness across the country. So, let’s talk about it…

According to the 2016 Census, there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia. This week at Orange Sky, we’re reflecting on the idea of a ‘home’ – we know it means something different to everyone, especially our friends, so we asked our team to think about where they feel most at home and why.

Here’s James from Orange Sky's Volaby Team…

When I was growing up, my concept of a home was something that was in flux fairly regularly. Having moved to three different countries and lived in many homes by the time I was 13, I think they all started to blend together and I am certain I have superimposed memories of the various places overlapping at this point. 

Later when I finished high school and took off to the US on my next adventure, that concept changed yet again. Dormitories, share-houses and sleeping on couches when my minimum wage job couldn’t pay the bills. I think that my idea of home had to be ‘where you are right now’ so that I could try to make that place as comfortable as possible. Eventually I couldn’t do this any more, so it was time to go back to Australia and change that concept again.

Home to me is more than just a roof over my head and a place to sleep at night; it is my loved ones, and our collective hopes, dreams and shared experiences. I have experienced many different living situations from large family homes to couch surfing halfway across the world when things were a bit tougher. No matter the situation, I count myself extremely lucky as I have always had my family and loved ones, which is what I think I have always equated to “home”. I knew that I had that safety net if things got too tough, which is something that I will be eternally grateful for.

Now that I am a bit older and have my family, the place that I feel most at home is when I am with them. I don’t think it would matter where we lived, as long as we were together, sharing laughs and supporting each other. I suppose it is the place where I feel most like myself.

When I think about Homelessness Week and the focus it puts on everyone’s needs to have a place to call home, I realise that I am in such a privileged position to think about home as more than just a roof over my head meeting my basic needs for shelter. Having someone to talk to, someone glad to see you when you get there, and a feeling of belonging when you arrive are key to people feeling like they aren’t alone, and that someone cares.

That’s why the most important part of Orange Sky’s service is not the washing machines or dryers – it’s our six orange chairs, which are pulled out at every single shift. Through genuine and non-judgemental conversation, our volunteers provide a welcoming and supportive space for friends – a space where they can feel like they belong. 

How can you get involved and help make an impact this Homelessness Week?

Sign up for The Sudsy Challenge! Help us wash away the stigmas surrounding homelessness by keeping your kit on for three days, talking about it with those around you and raising funds and awareness to support our friends doing it tough.