Zen garden to boost youth wellbeing

Youth homelessness and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand. People with mental illness are more at risk of homelessness. Yet, the stress that comes with rough sleeping can also negatively impact mental health and wellbeing.  

One organisation creating a safe haven for homeless youth is The Lodge Youth Support Service in Brisbane. Their mission to help break the cycle of homelessness by providing medium to long-term accommodation and support to at-risk people aged 16-25 years.

“The Lodge is a hidden gem in our community and we’ve seen many local youth go through the program and make life-changing progress,” Lisa Bowers, MatchWorks Service Development and Projects Coordinator said.

“Several residents have also progressed into employment through the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program over the four years we have been working together. Now we’re delighted to help fund a Zen garden for residents through the ‘MatchWorks in the Community’ grant program.”

A place to relax 

The team at The Lodge Youth Support Service provide accommodation and an independent living skills program for homeless and at-risk young people in the community. The Zen Garden will be a safe space for residents to relax and disconnect.

Coordinator at The Lodge Youth Support Service Inc, Theo Samaras, said ideas from residents were being incorporated into the plan. 

“We want it to be a relaxed space to disconnect and recharge, so our lodgers can benefit from better mental health and wellbeing,” Theo said.

“Many of the young people we support have experienced trauma and have complex backgrounds, so it’s important we provide a calm space where they can get away from it all. 

“It will provide an area for alone time as well as group activities, promote wellbeing, somewhere to chill with friends, but mostly something our young people have been involved in and helped bring to life.”

A collaborative effort

Theo said the Zen garden had turned into a truly positive community project.

“This project will support our young people with communication, co-operation, manual skill, a sense of pride and community networking,” Theo said.

“Our local Bunnings have come on board to support the project by supplying The Lodge with outdoor furniture, ornaments, and plants. The Majestic Church is also supporting the project as some of their members have carpentry skills and will assist with assembling the hut and building decking.”  

Building life-skills at The Lodge

The Lodge residents take part in Clean Up Australia Day as part of the independent living-skills program .

Each day, experienced youth workers assist The Lodge residents to develop positive routines and practical skills.  

“Our program focuses on building life-skills so our young residents’ transition into an independent and self-reliant life where they feel good about themselves and take positive steps,” Theo said.

“We teach them time-management skills, social skills, nutrition, socialisation skills and how to budget and save. We also help residents discover what it takes to look after a home and themselves, so the next phase of their life is happier and healthier.”

The Zen garden will be ready just in time for World Peace Day on the 21st September 2021. Contact us to find out more.