Brotherhood of St Laurence Partners with Foyer Foundation on Youth Projects
25 October 2017 at 3:20 pm
Welfare organisation the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) and the Foyer Foundation are joining forces to expand national projects around young people who have been homeless or at risk of homelessness – offering accommodation, education and preparation for employment.
The two organisations announced a two-year partnership at the National Foyer Conference in Sydney on Wednesday to work together on measures including a “community of practice” for agencies which run Youth Foyers in Australia.
Youth Foyers began in France after World War II (foyer means hearth in French) to support young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness to secure work and has spread to other countries, including Australia.
The Brotherhood said the Youth Foyers were “different from most other services” for this group of young people because they integrated housing, education, training and assistance with health, well-being and finding employment and helping them develop the skills needed to lead productive adult lives.
The Brotherhood’s executive director, Tony Nicholson said: “The Brotherhood of St Laurence is delighted to have the opportunity to work more closely with the Foyer Foundation to advocate for more Foyers nationally.
“Our own involvement in developing and establishing youth foyers in Victoria shows how effective they are in helping young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to study and work towards independent adulthood while living in customised accommodation,” he said.
Keith Bryant, a former investment banker and now chair of the Foyer Foundation, told Pro Bono News the foundation was looking forward to working with the Brotherhood to bring together their combined expertise and strengthening the Foyer movement across Australia.
“We can achieve so much more by working together,” he said.
“The partnership will drive the growth of Youth Foyers in Australia through measures that include research and policy development and developing nationally consistent processes, including accreditation for new foyers.”
Bryant said the partnership involved both money and resources.
“The Foyer Foundation has been around for nine years and has existed on very small amounts of money… [but with] with a good national board with a spread of interests across the states,” he said.
“The critical issue was to take that next step and set up something that was a national networking group.”
Bryant said as at the same time the Brotherhood was building up a lot of expertise in Victoria.
“The more we talked to the Brotherhood we realised that there was definitely a role for them around research and they are very good at running communities of practice… and we are good at building the network,” he said.
“We realised that our core capabilities are arguably very complimentary in working closely with one another. We agreed that this was an entity that needed to survive on private sector funding and we did not want to label it a ‘peak body’.
We were clear that membership funding [of the Foyer Foundation] wasn’t going to be enough and not the right approach anyway. We wanted something that was very outcomes driven. The outcomes at the end of the day in terms of benefits to young people were what really mattered.
“We realised that it was important for the services we are offering that members were involved . So we have a small component of that has come from our service membership but that the vast majority would need to come from philanthropists or corporates. And that’s the model that we can see going forward as being sustainable for our foundation.”
In explaining the funding proposition Bryant said: “So what we did was we agreed with the Brotherhood suggestion that they put in $100,000 and we realised that we need two years of working capital and that would probably need to amount to $240,000. We realised that $200,000 would be enough to start and it was important in that we we got some philanthropic funding.
“The other agencies representing Foyer Foundation matched the Brotherhood. So Launch Housing contributed as did Anglicare WA. The CEOs of both those organisations are on our Foyer Foundation board and then we managed to get a Sydney-based philanthropist to contribute the remainder of the funding via the Grant Family Trust.”
Going forward Bryant said the partnership would need a lot more from philanthropy.
“It’s time to build and we have two years to do it. At this conference we are calling on philanthropists and corporates to engage with us on this project,” he said.
“Philanthropists and corporates don’t normally fund things that look like peak bodies. We don’t call ourselves a peak body. We are a national networking agency that networks for learning and the idea is that it is designed to be outcomes driven… which philanthropists are ultimately driven by. We are program networkers rather than program deliverers.”
Sally James, the Brotherhood’s principal advisor on youth transitions said: “We will be working with government at the federal and state levels – and with local communities – to get a better deal for a group of young people who don’t have the opportunities for decent education and employment – the keys to success in adult life – that many other Australian youth enjoy.
“Young people who complete educational qualifications are much more likely to have the capacity to find ongoing work. Research by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute finds that early school leavers experience social exclusion at almost three times the rate of those who have completed Year 12.”