Merry Community

We’re Partnering with Bridge It to Help End Youth Homelessness

We’re Partnering with Bridge It to Help End Youth Homelessness

A home should be safe, nurturing, and a place to be yourself.

Sadly, many young people don't experience this. In Australia, 122,000 people experience homelessness any given night, with young people aged 12-24 making up 24% of this.

This year, we are partnering with Bridge It, a non-profit dedicated to ending youth homelessness in Melbourne.

"When starting Merry People I knew I wanted to be a business that made a positive impact on society. When I met Carla, and heard some of the stories of the young people - I wanted to help." Dani, Merry People Founder. 

Whether you're familiar with Bridge It or discovering them through our partnership, read on to learn about Carla's mission and what’s next for Bridge It and Merry People.

What Is Bridge It?

Bridge It is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to ending youth homelessness by providing homes, community and support so young women can lead independent lives.

Carla founded Bridge It, alongside her dedicated team, in 2021. They aspired to create a life changing housing and support program to respond to the escalating homelessness crisis. This program is called the Cocoon. In their first 18 months Bridge It provided homes to 11 young women who had been in residential or foster care and needed a supportive place to go to. 

This transition, when unsupported, is a significant pathway into homelessness for many young people. “Within 4 years of leaving this care, 54% of young people experience homelessness,” says Carla.

“There is a very limited amount of supportive or affordable housing in Australia,” Carla tells us, “Unfortunately, many young people have no option other than the street, scary, expensive boarding houses or couch surfing which can lead to sexual exploitation.”

With Bridge It, Carla aims to bridge this critical gap by creating a home and community for young women leaving residential or foster care.

But how does Bridge It do this? Through its Cocoon program, right here in Melbourne.

The Cocoon: A One-Of-A-Kind Home

The Cocoon is a home in St Kilda, and as the name suggests, provides a place for its young residents to stay, recover, stabilise, develop living skills, and prepare for long-term housing.

The residence is currently under construction to increase the number of self-contained apartments from seven to sixteen. This renovation will allow more young women to move in later this year, and transition from foster care or homelessness.

It’s also one of a kind; the Cocoon is the only youth supportive housing for women in Victoria.

Young people who experience homelessness typically are also experiencing many other challenges, and so it's important for them to have access to support that meets their individual needs, beyond just housing.

“Supporting our young residents holistically is key to them getting to a point where they can thrive in life,” says Carla, “I have seen the lives of all of the young women who have come through the Cocoon transform in so many ways, such as finding employment, building relationships with positive partners and building their self esteem.”

The Cocoon offers its residents life-skills, workshops, massage, acupuncture, art therapy, trips to new places (like the zoo), and lived-experience peer mentoring.

Lived-Experience Peer Mentoring at the Cocoon

Bridge It’s lived-experience peer mentoring program plays a crucial role at The Cocoon. It empowers residents by helping them build essential skills and gain confidence.

Sage (left) is Bridge It's Wellbeing Coordinator. Sam (right) is Bridge It’s Peer Mentor. 

“Our young people say that having support from our Peer Mentor Sam has inspired them in so many ways,” says Carla, “and it is powerful for the residents to connect with someone who has had similar experiences to them.”

We’re so proud to be able to partner with Bridge It to give young women a home where they can feel love and support, and be transformed. “It feels like we are giving young women a second chance,” says Dani, “another opportunity to learn life-changing skills, and build a future for themselves.”

Creating A Safe Outdoor Space For Residents

It was a natural fit for us to sponsor the construction of a beautiful tropical courtyard at the Cocoon. This space will allow residents to enjoy the outdoors in a safe and serene environment.

“Many of our young residents are very fearful of the world and struggle to leave the Cocoon, especially early in their stay,” shares Carla, “and our young people wanted more spaces at the Cocoon that were both safe and outside so creating a beautiful, tropical courtyard sounded like a great idea.”

Carla (left) is Bridge It's Founder. Dani (right) is Merry People's Founder. 

What’s Next For Bridge It and Merry People?

The big dream behind Bridge It is to one day see a Cocoon in every state of Australia and to see an end to homelessness in this country.

Our dream big? To make the world a more merrier place. Dani explains "for me, it's really important to support projects and back founders like Carla who are doing exactly that."

Alongside the construction of the courtyard space, and the Cocoon’s renovation, we have another exciting project under construction. More to come soon...

Be the first to know about it!

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