Peer Support by Six,

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Homeless Helping Homeless

If you’re down and out and there seems no place to turn, LifeWise offer peer support for the homeless by people who have been homeless.

Government departments, dispute processes and legal matters can be hard to deal with when you’re just dealing day to day or pay to pay.

Craig Schaumkell, peer support worker, Tainui and German, says there is a lot of stuff that is handy to know.

“When my dad died I came back from overseas to help my mum and to heal myself, says Craig. I thought my mum would know what to do, but she didn’t. And neither did I. I struggled to get any sort of help. Not knowing what I was entitled to made me really angry. It is really handy to know what your entitlements are.

Some of our people struggle with the processes.

We’re dealing with people with addictions. We’re dealing with people with mental health issues and illiteracy. They are lacking a lot of skills.

I struggled myself a bit at school. I had to learn a lot of things including how to deal with people in general.”

Justine McFarlane, Programme Lead, Community Services, grew up all over the world but has called New Zealand home for the last 20 years.

Justine says she met her husband in Hong Kong and he bought her to Aotearoa where the couple have raised two daughters.

Justine has managed her own small business and worked for Work and Income NZ before joining the LifeWise team a little more than a year ago

There are two parts to peer support, says Justine.

“Sometimes you just need someone who has had that life experience to talk to, says Justine. Often people just need someone to listen to them.”

Justine also explains that a lot of the work is offering advise, to advocate or assist.

Common problems peer support workers face include, how to access emergency housing, how to get your benefit back, tenancy issues and how to navigate available social services


Listen to full interview here