By Michael Roberts | posted on January 14, 2021
THE Albany Youth Support Association (AYSA) is eagerly waiting to move into new premises on Sanford Road, with the finishing touches only 1-2 months away on a “one-stop-shop” for its outreach programs.
About a year ago the group was forced to pack up shop at its headquarters on Prior Street after co-tenants Comet Care School grew too big for the building to accommodate both organisations.
It meant AYSA had to look for an alternative venue to house its Outreach and Open Access programs, with 4 Sanford Road eventually leased and now in the middle of a significant renovation.
Those works are expected to finish early this year, giving AYSA a dedicated centre to run its outreach services and the capacity to further expand and develop new programs, according to Acting CEO Leon Delpech.
“We’ve been trying to make this happen for six months,” he said.
“This building will enable people just to turn up and say they ‘need some support’.
“We really want to have a drop-in centre here where people can come and access services really readily.”
As part of the renovation works, artist George Domahidy collaborated with Albany’s youth to paint a wall mural on the side of the Sanford Road building.
Open Access supports aspiring young artists and young people to get involved in arts activities, including music, multimedia, painting and urban art.
But without a home to house the artworks, AYSA Outreach Services Manager Chrystie Flint said it had been a huge challenge running the program.
“We’ve been running Open Access here there and everywhere, but it hasn’t been ideal,” she said.
“Albany has been missing a place where young people can call home and access support without having to have an appointment.
“For young people who are already transient and misplaced in the community, on a lot of levels it is really quite damaging.
“Numbers have significantly decreased during that time.”
Ms Flint said young people had been through a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has shocked me how much their mental health has been affected and how much they take it all on board,” she said.
“Job security, accommodation issues – it’s really impacted their mental health.”
Mr Delpech said youth homeless was a real issue in Albany and the Great Southern, even if you didn’t see it on the streets.
“It might be hidden, but it’s there,” he said.
“A lot of people don’t talk about it openly or see it. Roughing it in cars, couches – that’s the stuff we don’t see.
“It makes sense to have one place that people come. The door will always be open.”