Unbelievably, it is only six months now until DAY ONE of the great big run from Perth to Adelaide .... 2690 kilometers / 44 days ...and as promised here is the last write up before it all happens. (...as such, it might be a little long )
Who are we?
We are Lee-Anne (girl), Aoife and Willow (border collies), I have written a fair number of summaries about us over the years - having started Pup & Girl early in 2018; but the general blurb goes a little like this:
…we are Lee-Anne (girl) – single mother of four rather fab humans, librarian, aerial yoga teacher, runner, reader – sometimes awkward, occasionally painfully shy, always clumsy, often silly… deaf, plant based ….passionate about not only ENDING homelessness, but challenging the pervasive and unhelpful narrative around homelessness and people who experience it !
…and Aoife and Willow (pup/s) – enthusiastic running pals, occasionally chasers of ducks, often exceptional finders of food that should NOT be eaten, and my EARS while we run.
Obviously, these words only scratch the surface, I am ill-equipped to adequately write a more comprehensive, yet succinct version of us. One of the greater struggles throughout this adventure has been to reconcile my shyness, and desire to keep a great deal of myself to myself, with the need to seriously put it all out there, and leverage...to spark the change that I am aiming for.
Why are we running so far?
I started Pup & Girl after years of encountering rough sleepers while out running in the wee hours of the morning; fleeting but meaningful friendships were made, and I came to understand how tenacious, resourceful, adaptive, and creative humans can be when they are at their most vulnerable. Then I had a summer where I was witness to some appalling treatment of people doing it tough ... so, I researched, I am a librarian after all... started P & G...
– and completed a solo multi day run from Adelaide to Melbourne late 2019 – 10 days / 748 kilometres …which raised $20,000 for organisations that work on the front line assisting people doing it tough, and provided a platform to talk at / to anyone who will give me the time of day about homelessness in Australia.
It wasn't enough, there is more to do; more conversations to have, more advocacy, more funds to raise, more running - only this time a little further. All of this year and most of the previous, I have been training like a mad thing, because...
Today, and every day, , more than 116,000 people across Australia are currently experiencing homelessness (according to the 2016 Census). Devastatingly, the true number in 2022 is certain to be far higher.
Housing as a human right
Under Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, every person has the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to adequate housing. The right to housing is more than simply a right to shelter. It is a right to have a home that is adequate, safe, affordable and accessible.
Beyond simply not having a home, homelessness also has considerable flow-on effects on a person’s ability to enjoy other basic rights and freedoms, including the right to family life and privacy, freedom of movement, assembly and association, health and development.
In Australia, homelessness is increasing. Rising rents, skyrocketing home prices and inadequate housing supply are backing people against a corner and into homelessness. Our shrinking proportion of social housing is leaving families with nowhere to turn once they are pushed out of the mainstream housing market. - HALL & WILCOX
Add in extreme weather events - bushfires, flooding - pandemics, inflation, the rise of insecure work (Uber / Amazon), funding cuts to critical services - domestic violence, mental health - and it is impossible to not see where the pressure points are...
The changes needed to undo what has already been done to undermine housing security are immense but not insurmountable, there is greater work to be done in challenging the status quo / narratives around homelessness...
Myth: People who are homeless should just get a job and then they would not be homeless.
Fact: Many people who are homeless do have jobs, sometimes two or even three. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates as many as 40%-60% of people experiencing homelessness nationwide are employed. However, a paycheck does not necessarily solve their homelessness or other challenges.
Myth: People choose to be homeless.
Fact: This myth is dangerous and allows us to ignore the trauma of homelessness and neurobiological effects trauma has on humans. Being homeless is stressful, humiliating, exhausting, and dangerous. It is a hard day-to-day existence for men, women, and children.
Myth: People who are homeless are dangerous, violent, and/or criminals.
Fact: A person who is homeless is no more likely to be a criminal than a person who is housed. People who are homeless break (Australian Laws) merely by being unhoused. The reality is that most spend their time and resources trying to survive and improve their situation.
Myth: Housing should come with conditions like being clean and sober.
Fact: Evidence tells us that people who are homeless can find stability and healing when provided empowering supports focused on housing and supports. Known as Housing First, this approach acknowledges the complexities of addiction, trauma, and the challenges that come with experiencing homelessness. It also acknowledges that it can be very difficult to successfully address challenges while living on the streets or in an unsafe and unstable situation. Read more about the evidence behind approaches that drive an end to homelessness.
Myth: There is nothing I can do about homelessness. Fact: Effectively reducing homelessness will take the entire community working together around this common goal. See below
Be Kind: When those experiencing homelessness are asked what can community members to do help, the reply is resounding familiar, Simply Be kind. Kindness is a rare commodity for those who are unhoused. Unspeakable acts of violence and disrespect occur to people who are unhoused daily and often the act of kindness one shows, is the only sharing of humanity experienced throughout the day.
Speak Up: Homelessness is a complex challenge rooted in many social injustices. In order to effectively reduce homelessness we must advocate for person-centered, trauma-informed supports that meet people where they are in life. Share Time: Volunteerism is vital to the sustainability of existing resources and new resources. Volunteer with winter and severe weather sheltering efforts. Volunteer with other local agencies that serve people experiencing homelessness.
Rent or Hire: People and families experiencing homelessness are regularly in need of housing and work opportunities. Those who are unhoused are as diverse as the general public in their needs, experience, drive and skills.
Who are we raising funds for?
All funds raised go to:
Orange Sky Australia
Provide a platform for every day Australians to connect through a regular laundry and shower service. The focus is on creating a safe, positive and supportive environment for people who are too often ignored or who feel disconnected from the community.
Fred's Van is a food service for people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness and marginalisation in Adelaide. Fred's Van has over 500 volunteers and provides approximately 550 meals a week.
Catherine House Inc.
Catherine House offers crisis, longer term accommodation and support services for women experiencing homelessness.
Hutt Street Centre Hutt St Centre is a place of connection and support, where people facing homelessness are empowered to rebuild their lives, rediscover their identities and reconnect with those who love them.
Details can be found here:
What happens when the run is finished?
...in all honesty, I am not sure. I very, very much feel like I NEED to do this run, keep challenging, keep advocating, keep speaking up. But I think after this run, if I have created enough ripples - and there is a tidal wave of kindness, compassion - and considered voting (homelessness is a political choice made by society, and it can be resolved) - I would like to fade back into my introverted life, and dedicate all the hours I spend training to Acts of Service instead.
I cannot thank you enough for all for your support, either from the beginning or whenever you have joined us on this journey - over the years I have typed out about as much as I can - so I will love you and leave you with this short clip, until we are on the other side of the 2690 kilometers. xxx
In the meantime - you can follow us on the socials, or keep watch of the website as we request support:
Facebook - www.facebook.com/pupandgirlruntomelbourne
Website - www.pupandgirl.com