We can all make a difference

At 3rd Space life can be colourful. It’s a place with a rainbow of personalities, people of different backgrounds, with diverse life experiences, all with their own personal stories. One of the realities of an environment like ours is that every now and then, those who choose to work and volunteer here can find themselves directly under attack from the people who visit us.

I was in 3rd Space Café a while ago eating lunch, joined by my daughters. Some of our team were at the next table. A man came to sit near us and I engaged in conversation with him, welcoming him and chatting briefly. All seemed well and then suddenly the man got up, went to a nearby table and removed the bowl of beef and barley soup being eaten by a fellow visitor and slammed it down on the table next to me in the middle of our team. What can only be described as a diatribe followed. How dare they look and sound joyous and happy! How dare everyone in 3rd Space Café be smiling and laughing while he was doing it tough and trying to sit quietly! How disrespectful they were for eating menu items they had purchased when he was eating soup!

I tried to talk to the man and find out what the problem really was. I didn’t get very far. He wanted to know who I was. I told him my name and identified that I worked at 3rd Space. He made a number of insulting comments designed to wound.

Our ethos at 3rd Space is that the minute someone starts to impact on other people’s enjoyment of the space, it is time for them to take stock and recalibrate, move away or leave altogether until they can be calm and respectful. I gave the man these options and invited him to sit somewhere else away from the people he was insulting. As expected, this was not met with a good response and ultimately, led to him being asked to leave. He did so, yelling and screaming as he went.

The environment at 3rd Space is usually calm but people under stress and suffering from the effects of drugs, alcohol or mental illness can behave in erratic and aggressive ways. Sometimes it can be a sign of a batch of drugs that has become available or isn’t clean, or of dynamics that are happening between people out on the street that we know nothing of. Many years ago, one of our visitors reminded me that what we see inside 3rd Space is just a microscopic view of a much larger set of happenings on the streets. The world out there is ugly and tough. With the recent release of the 2016 Census data, we have been reminded of how tough. On 2016 Census night, there were 1708 people classified as homeless in the inner city. This translates to 323.9 homeless individuals per 10,000 people – seven times the state-wide rate of 45.6 per 10,000.

Life on the streets is foreign to many but sadly not to our visitors. Our exposure to the confronting and ugly side of homelessness is limited compared to those who experience it. As I was walking through Fortitude Valley this morning I saw many people I knew and many I didn’t who clearly were homeless. It made me sad that the issue is a hot potato. Everyone thinks it is someone else’s responsibility to ‘fix’ it. And many people believe that it’s the government’s sole responsibility to deal with. The reality is that it takes a community, the government, people who care, councils and many others to work together to help people help themselves.

If YOU want to help, please ask us how! We have a myriad of ways – from small to astronomically large – that will show what a difference we can all make.

3rd Space CEO


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