St James resident wants innovative solutions for homelessness

Anglicare WA Human centred Design Lead Jethro Sercombe with the Street Connect bus and the new website to help people find accommodation. Picture: David Baylis
Anglicare WA Human centred Design Lead Jethro Sercombe with the Street Connect bus and the new website to help people find accommodation. Picture: David Baylis

HOMELESSNESS fighter Jethro Sercombe believes Anglicare WA’s latest creation could become the AirBnB of crisis accommodation.

The Home For Now App would help service providers identify bed vacancies at emergency accommodation centres.

“We developed an app which is the AirBnB for crisis accommodation and it tells us where all of the vacancies are in the system at any one time,” the St James resident said.

The app is awaiting major funding before it can be rolled out.

Improving the system for vulnerable people and the human experience has been front and centre of Mr Sercombe’s mind while working to help homeless youth.

Mr Sercombe is Anglicare WA’s human-centred design lead and has recently been awarded a $50,000 Westpac Social Change Scholarship, which he will use to explore social innovation works around the world, starting with San Francisco Design Week on June 19.

“I’m focusing predominantly on a range of design labs that have started to pop up all over the world using this method to create innovative government policy and innovative social services, keeping a focus on the people doing it the toughest,” he said.

Mr Sercombe started his career with Anglicare WA on the daily outreach Street Connect bus when he was 21 years old.

Mr Sercombe said working at the Leederville housing service Foyer Oxford for six years cemented his commitment to improving the system for vulnerable people.

“It was part of working with Foyer Oxford and seeing the potential of what happens when you take inspiration from the experience of real people and apply creativity through that,” he said.

“I think in our society we’ve set up lots of systems that are really complicated to access, that has all these barriers in the way and it makes it really difficult for people to get out of poverty or out of homelessness.

“The way the systems were set up would mean that they have to tell their story five times.”