Dear Inner Circle,

A while back a young woman sat worriedly in a doctor’s consulting room. She wasn’t the patient but was nervously shuffling around because, in her assessment, the doctor wasn’t listening to his patient, a young mother nervously explaining to him about the pain she was experiencing. Thankfully, once the doctor left the room this nurse took some time to listen and quietly suggested an alternative course of action. Funnily enough we know the doctor’s name, but sadly not the nurse who, because of her initiative and listening ear saved my life. My mother wasn’t in need of an invasive procedure, she was pregnant again, with me.

Speaking of nurses, last year we partnered with Kirketon Road Centre, a local health service, to contract a clinical nurse consultant to provide primary healthcare at Wayside. This may sound like a departure from our mission but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When faced with the biggest medical decisions of our lives or huge decisions regarding treatment, a lot of people in our community face these alone. Many vulnerable people fear health care providers as they have been let down in the past, so much that they won’t even get a check-up. Is it any wonder then that decisions are delayed and quickly spiral out of control? As soon as she arrived, our nurse started building caring bonds of trust with our people, truly listening to them and they knew the difference. The other week in a routine check-up she noticed a small lump on one of our regular visitors who is well-known for her hatred of doctors. She carefully made the arrangement for a scan which led to emergency surgery – bringing new life to “a stitch in time saves nine.” That moment of care, saved a life.

Listening has the power to save lives. Last week I was fortunate enough to spend some time with our latest group of amazing young people who have signed up for our Wingspan Project. The Wingspan Project is our program, based down in Bondi, that surrounds a group of young people with an amazingly passionate team who will love, train and guide them into the skills and experience required to navigate life and work. The greatest gift our people will give them though, is that of listening to them. These are kids who haven’t had access to the advantages that many of us take for granted and have instead had involvement with our state’s systems of institutional care. I lament the state of many of these mechanisms that are so consumed with efforts to collect data to ‘feed the system’ they fail to give their well-intentioned staff any time to actually connect with the people they are trying to serve. For a fraction of their cost we have seen lives move from ‘at-risk’ to flourishing. I am so grateful and excited for what’s coming next. In their first week these bright new sparks called for a meeting with their project leaders and requested that they be able to come in for training more days a week! As an old dyed-in-the-wool youth worker nothing warms my heart more than seeing a young person awaken to their unique potential. When someone awakens to their purpose, we see them move towards life on their own. To those of you who have backed us from the start to back these kids, I cannot thank you enough! It’s we who say collectively – we hear you!

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle.

Jon

PS. We have good news for people who live local and in need of some retail therapy. From today our new and improved Wayside Chapel Op Shop in Kings Cross reopens and will be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9:30am – 2.30pm. Shop for good, knowing that every dollar spent goes straight back into helping people experiencing homelessness and isolation. Or you can still shop online anytime at thewaysidechapelopshop.com

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