Bittersweet ‘wake’ for service

AN emotional farewell was held for Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation on Thursday.

NO HOME: Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation manager Kerri Snowden with two of the service’s clients Trisha Sharmain, 21, and Nick Rowe, 20, who will have to find new homes when the service is wound up.

NO HOME: Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation manager Kerri Snowden with two of the service’s clients Trisha Sharmain, 21, and Nick Rowe, 20, who will have to find new homes when the service is wound up.

More than 80 staff members, current and former clients, other service providers and supporters attended the “wake” at the North Nowra Community Centre.

SYA manager Kerri Snowden said it was a sad but beautiful day.

“It was a chance for everyone who has been involved with Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation to come together,” she said.

For 30 years, SYA has confronted the growing problem of youth homelessness in the Shoalhaven but was overlooked for funding in the state government’s Going Home Staying Home tender reform.

Ms Snowden said the event featured a lot of fond recollections.

“There were a lot of emotional speeches and a great slide show of the service’s work over the past 30 years,” she said.

“There were lots of tears.

“Recognition was also paid, not only to our service but also other services who were not successful in gaining funding in the area, including Wollongong Women’s Housing, Wollongong Family and Emergency and Nowra Women’s Refuge.

“They were all asked to stand and were warmly applauded for their efforts.”

A minute’s silence was also held as a mark of respect for former client Bronwyn Green, who passed away recently.

Labor candidate for South Coast Fiona Phillips, who recently visited the service with shadow housing minister Sophie Cotsis and Labor’s Kiama candidate Glenn Kolomeitz, has called on the government to reverse its decision and reinstate its funding.

Mrs Phillips is organising a public meeting in coming weeks to harness local community and business support to try to stop the closure of SYA.

“We have launched a petition, Save Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation and will be attempting to gain local support to lobby for its survival.”

Mrs Phillips has also established a team for this weekend’s Sleep Out Shoalhaven event, called Save Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation, and will be spreading the message of the service’s work and need for support.

A firm date and location for the meeting is yet to be finalised.

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