Our Peer Education Support Program (PESP) is a way of ensuring that people with lived experiences of homelessness have the opportunity to be heard, to teach others, and to have a role in shaping more effective responses to homelessness in Victoria and beyond.
Our current PESP team is made up of 5 remarkable people who’ve all experienced homelessness themselves and who now volunteer their time to help others understand homelessness, its causes and, its solutions.
Meet the team:
Davide grew up in south-western Melbourne An avid tree-climber as a child, he’s now an arborist by trade.
When he was 15 years old, Davide became a ward of the state. Like many kids in state-care, he found life a little difficult to navigate after being cut-off from support at just 18. Davide says, ‘once you’re in homelessness, there’s no pathway out. It’s like being on a roundabout with no exits.’
Luckily, Davide became a member of the Journeys to Social Inclusion Program, a housing-first styled program delivered by Sacred Heart Mission. It was there that he first heard about the PESP program and decided that he’d like to help others and help improve the homelessness system.
Through the program, Davide was also able to secure housing. Now, at 37 years old, Davide lives in his own place near the city. He enjoys cooking and chilling out at home with his cat, Umbra.
Elvis is a long-time advocate for improving the lives of young people. As well as being a CHP PESP member, he is currently an Ambassador for R U OK? Day and Ambassador to National Youth Commission Australia. His ambition is to one day become President of United Nations Youth Australia.
As well as homelessness, other issues close to Elvis’ heart include; mental health, domestic violence and LGBTQ+ issues. Most especially, Elvis wants to devote his life to promoting kindness and understanding.
Elvis loves Melbourne and says it’s a very compassionate city in which he never feels lonely. Like many Melburnians, he’s big on coffee and is a particularly fond of a Gloria Jean’s salt and caramel cappuccino.
A creative type from a young age, Helen is both a singer and an abstract artist.
She was born to an Australian dad and a Finnish mum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some of her earliest memories are of the long boat–voyage to Australia with her family.
After growing up in Adelaide, Helen came to Melbourne to study at university. Like many young people who find themselves couchsurfing in an unaffordable rental market, Helen didn’t initially realise that she was homeless.
As time went on, Helen tried to secure public housing. But like many others before her, she discovered just how difficult and arduous it can be to navigate the public housing system.
During harder times, Helen found solace and strength in her art, and she now has the ambition to learn and to teach transpersonal art therapy. She also dreams of one day running her own business.
Luis has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Information Technology. He’s been living in Melbourne since 2013 and loves the city – especially the large range of cuisines available.
He’s an electronic whizz and likes playing around with computers and any other tech he can get his hands on – he once earned his private pilots license and has also rigged up his home to run on solar-powered batteries.
He works in administration for Kingston Council and in his spare time he plays chess and is writing an autobiography.
Nigel, 43, has experience in community theatre, having written, produced and acted in a number of plays. His family moved around a lot as a child, as his step-father was a Minister, and has lived in the US, UK and all over Australia.
In his 20s and 30s, Nigel worked as a chef, sometimes in remote locations. He once spent 6 months living in the Nullabor.
While he was experiencing homelessness, Nigel still managed to complete a double Diploma in Community Development and Community Services. He is also now a Democratic Ambassador for the Victorian Electoral Commission.
Nigel says chocolate is one of his biggest weaknesses, but he has learned to be very disciplined due to various health conditions.