Stepping Stone House (SSH), in its original incarnation, only had the medium to long term house. As part of the program, SSH works with the young people in the service to assist them in sourcing alternative accommodation when their time with SSH is over.
After exiting SSH the young people enter our Semi-Independent Living Program (SILP).
Lengthy waiting lists for community housing and Housing New South Wales register caused large delays and private rental as we all know is like a merry go round for the best of us not to mention if you are a seventeen year old young person, with minimal family support and minimal financial backing.
It was due to these experiences SSH again embarked upon a solution focused project and decided to add to their existing building and create the adjoining three bedroom self contained unit for our SILP.
Young people living in the medium to long term service who no longer require the day to day support and supervision from staff, have adequate cooking, budgeting and other living skills and are engaged in a full time education or employment program, can move into the SILP. This program allows for the young person to still maintain the connection and social contact of staff and residents of SSH while embarking upon their own journey into mainstream community.
The SILP is available to 17-20 year old's of mixed gender. As mentioned above, young people who have successfully “graduated” from the medium to long term program can transition into the SILP or other young people within the community can either self-refer or refer through an agency such as Community Services.
The SILP is connected to the medium to long term unit in Dulwich Hill, however is a self-contained living space to provide for up to 3 young people. It provides young people with a safe, secure and stable environment, where they can maintain and implement their new found living skills with confidence and with the support of the staff and manager of SSH.
This program aims to empower the young people with a pride in their abilities, both natural and learnt, and assist them to implement choices around self-management, self-regulation and taking responsibility for their lives. They are expected to:
• manage their finances
• organise and arrange cooking plans
• appropriately budget for and take part in food shopping
• regulate self care
• live in the shared space by implementing their skills, such as, communication, sharing, conflict management
• use their organisational skills
• maintain the cleanliness of the house and garden area
• attend vocational or employment options
• respect the no alcohol and other drugs policy
They are expected to do all of this with minimal supervision.
Weekly meetings are held within the SILP service and attended by all residents and the manager. These meetings provide the manager with an opportunity to catch up with the young people and ensure that they are coping with the transition and to provide assistance with this process. In addition, the manager meets regularly with each resident of the SILP service to assist them in identifying strengths and weaknesses within themselves, and work out how to manage areas for improvement. This process is to manage the minimal risk of lapse into old habits and the loneliness often experienced by young people who go from fully supported services to minimal support. The manager and staff foster meaningful, therapeutic and non-judgmental relationships with the young people where success, learning and empowerment are key factors.
Although this program runs independently of the medium to long term service, the two programs come together on a regular basis and the young people from the ILP are invited to dinner, to participate in activities, both in and out house, and join in on recreational group activities organised by the medium to long term service. The young people living in the ILP unit offer a mature and friendly presence for SSH residents, provide peer influences and role modelling for the young people of the medium to long term service to demonstrate that each such person can aspire to live in the SILP.
In addition, the young people who live in the SILP unit are invited to attend social activities, camps and outings to ensure that their opportunities and experiences are not limited. Their inclusion in activities reminds them they are still valued members of the SSH community, helps them to stay connected to SSH staff and helps to counteract boredom and loneliness, so often an issue for young people.