Wraparound services gave Mandurah resident Steve a new lease on life

Mandurah resident Steve Flavel moved into a home with the help of wraparound services and homeless advocates such as Owen Farmer. Photo: Claire Sadler.
Mandurah resident Steve Flavel moved into a home with the help of wraparound services and homeless advocates such as Owen Farmer. Photo: Claire Sadler.

Mandurah resident Steve Flavel went to Hale School, ran a hotel and travelled to Vietnam to teach English before he ended up living on the streets.

At the age of just 34, he suffered from a severe stroke leaving him with less function in his right side.

"I had my stroke 19 years ago and I slowly recovered," Mr Flavel said.

"It was about eight years ago when I felt a bit left out with my family. They were all still working but because I had this stroke I felt a bit inferior.

"I was living with a friend in Rockingham at the time and when we had a falling out, I thought, I'm going to live in the bush."

Steve Flavel in front of his tent he called home for seven years.

Steve Flavel in front of his tent he called home for seven years.

Mr Flavel went on to live in a tent for seven years but as time went by he began to deteriorate.

Homeless advocate Owen Farmer saw Mr Flavel worsening and asked whether he could help find him a home.

"The first time I asked if he would like me to get him a house, Steve told me if he were to live in a house now he would die in there," Mr Farmer said.

"Every day I would think of what I needed to do. It kept me occupied," Mr Flavel added.

Steve Flavel's past living situation.

Steve Flavel's past living situation.

But about three years ago, Mr Flavel woke up and wasn't able to breathe. He had a heart attack.

"My heart had to be defibrillated and one of my lungs was at 24 per cent capacity when it should be at 70 per cent. I had to get two stints put in, and get a pace maker."

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After his heart attack, Mr Flavel lived in a tent for a further two years before reaching out for help last year.

"It finally came to a stage where Steve asked me to get him somewhere to live," Mr Farmer said.

"Within three months of working with agencies in Rockingham and Mandurah we found a place.

"From living in a tent and a swag to seeing this man opening his own front door into affordable accommodation it is one of the best things that has happened to me."

Steve Flavel can't wipe the smile off his face since moving into a home. Photo: Claire Sadler.

Steve Flavel can't wipe the smile off his face since moving into a home. Photo: Claire Sadler.

Over a year since moving in, Mr Flavel said he was still overcome by those who helped him get out of the bush.

"Some days I still sit here thinking about the rain and wind, and how I'm not in the cold but instead I'm right near a fridge with food and I can shower," he said.

"I have always had a smile on my face but there's more of a smile in the last 14 months than I've ever had."

Mr Flavel has been able to get a gopher, a cleaner and gardener through the help of wraparound services, which is a strategy the City of Mandurah is set to continue.

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Tackling homelessness requires a collaborative approach according to the nine community service groups who have joined forces to deliver a new homelessness strategy.

The three-year plan focuses on four main objectives to tackle the issue: accessible accommodation, effective support systems, meaningful systemic change, and ensuring safety.

"The agencies are the major key for people like Steve to stay in the house," Mr Farmer said.

"With support it keeps a man like Steve motivated. Hopefully this shows other people on the streets how the agencies can help."