Daniel Peterson: Westfield Local Heroes 2018
Daniel shares one of life’s most valuable resources with rough sleepers
Along with the coffees, fresh food, Opal cards and financial assistance, outreach worker Daniel Peterson tries to provide something even more important to those facing homelessness.
The most valuable thing he can offer is his time, he says. To actively listen to people speak about their circumstances in a non-judgmental, respectful manner.
Daniel, who works at Community Northern Beaches, says he does whatever he can to ensure people feel validated by the time they leave the charity’s drop-in centre.
“To do the job well and to be effective, you really have to invest quality time with people to truly get to know what's going on in their lives and how you can help.”
Daniel divides his time between the centre and being out and about to find people sleeping rough.
He is also the first-response person the local council and police call upon to assist and assess the needs of rough sleepers in public spaces.
It is confronting and challenging and sometimes frustrating work but Daniel ensures he treats his clients with compassion and respect.
Apart from dealing with immediate needs such as food, shelter, clothing and transport, Daniel also helps with more complex issues.
He has achieved many positive outcomes for clients, including finding long-term housing, arranging for flights to New Zealand so a client could reconnect with family, setting up family reunions, setting up referrals for mental health treatment and finding employment opportunities.
“It's very much about being an advocate for, and a voice for, people who are going through great difficulties and struggle,” he says.
He’s touched to be voted a Westfield Local Hero and appreciates the connection members of the community have made to the charity.
Community Northern Beaches will use most of its $10,000 Westfield grant to fund immediate and practical needs of rough sleepers in the area, such as food, transport, phone facilities and pharmacy vouchers.
But the charity is also planning on setting up a voucher system with a local laundromat so people can wash and dry their clothes regularly.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.