The strength of the Constellation Project lies in its growing network and the diversity of people involved in the work. Their range of skills, knowledge and life experience ensures the project remains firmly cross-sector with the voices of lived experience at its centre.
I've been able to have conversations with people where their views on homelessness and housing affordability have been fundamentally changed.
I came into The Constellation Project with a very unique perspective. I was one of the 100 young people who testified at the Burdekin Royal Commission into Youth Homelessness in the late 1980’s. I also have a small degree of lobbying as well as investment experience through the jobs I’ve had. I joined up because I want to do anything and everything I can to prevent others from having to go through what I have been through.
When I joined Constellation in March 2019, I was just on the heels of my children and I being left at risk of homelessness due to domestic violence. We had moved into our new home the month before.
From a professional level, I’ve learned so much! The two cycles of More Homes have really opened up a whole new world to me of housing and housing affordability. Because of what I’ve learned, I’ve been able to have conversations with people where their views on homelessness and housing affordability have been fundamentally changed.
The technical side of the work done within Constellation has at times made my head spin but it’s been an incredible experience working alongside the knowledge and expertise of the others involved. I’ve found what they’ve brought to the table inspiring. The freshness of the ideas and the sheer determination of everyone involved to do whatever they can to end homelessness has given me a huge amount of reassurance that we really will make a difference in countless people’s lives.
I've grown in my confidence within my story of homelessness. I understand more of how the path I've been on to get to where I am today has been the exception rather than the rule.
The other journeys I’ve been on within Constellation have been more personal. I didn’t tell anyone for decades that I’d been homeless because I just didn’t want to be judged. Those that did know made me feel like I was worthless and irrelevant because of it. As I started sharing my story within TCP, I’ve not only found that my story has value but I’ve found that I myself have value.
I’ve grown in my confidence within my story of homelessness. I understand more of how the path I’ve been on to get to where I am today has been the exception rather than the rule.
Whilst I’ve been on this parallel journey, I’ve found that those within the project have pulled off something that is incredible. From what I’ve seen in some other sectors, those with lived experience can sometimes be dismissed or seen as having less value. They can be just seen as ‘snowflakes’.
Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice. Belonging is having that voice heard.
What the Governance Group, Driving Team and Lived Experience Advisory Team have done from the outset of the Constellation Project is create a place where I know I’m safe sharing my story. I’m respected. I’m listened to and people really try to understand what I’m saying and why I’m saying it. I know that my input is not just taken on board. It’s really listened to, valued and appreciated. This also extends to the Lab Team members and Network Champions.
Something popped up on my Facebook the other day that said;
‘Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice. Belonging is having that voice heard.’
I want to really draw attention to what everyone within the project has done by creating a place where people with lived experience belong. Where we are respected. Where we are valued. As someone who for years didn’t ‘belong’ anywhere or to anyone, ‘belonging’ to an intiative such as this one is one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The fact that I’m learning AND that we are actually in a position to create so much change just amplifies how wonderful this is for me. I can’t wait for the rest of this work we are doing to unfold.
Thank you to each and every one of you, especially the Governance Group, Driving Team and Lived Experience Advisory Team. Based on my own life experiences, I know that what you are doing really will change lives.