Jennifer Hansen, an acclaimed journalist, TV newsreader, blogger and radio announcer, has announced she has taken on an Ambassadorship with Hope Street.
Jen broke the news during National Homelessness Week to her More Music Breakfast Show listeners on smoothfm 91.5 Melbourne, saying she was shocked to learn that there are some 6000 homeless young people in her home town of Melbourne.
"It breaks my heart to think that there are so many young people around Melbourne doing it so tough each night. I've been very fortunate in life to grow up in a loving family, and I now have two children of my own in their early 20s who both have a comfortable home and a safe place to sleep at night. I think that's a basic right of any young person. If I can help in any way to alleviate that problem, I will," she said.
Jen explained that a recent hands-on volunteering trip to the poverty-torn Communa 13 district in Medellin, South America, got her thinking about how she could give back to young people who are in need in her home community of Melbourne. "If we can support our younger generation when they are going through a tough time, it can help turn around their lives for decades to come. It's the best place to start. When I learnt about Hope Street's wonderful work in responding to youth homelessness, it seemed like the perfect fit," she said.
Whilst she's been co-host of the breakfast show alongside Mike Perso for the past five years, Jen is best known to TV audiences for her ten years as the former co-host of Channel Ten's news. As a print journalist, she has written for several magazines and newspapers, including regular columns for the Herald Sun, and has also authored a novel and two screenplays. Jen lives in Melbourne with her husband, Neighbours actor Alan Fletcher (aka Dr Karl Kennedy) and their two children who are in their early 20s.
Donna Bennett, Hope Street's Chief Executive Officer, said the Hope Street team was delighted to have Jen as the organisation's Ambassador. "Jennifer is so well known and well respected for her professional merits in the media and journalism sphere. She's also a mum to children who are of similar ages to many of the young people that Hope Street supports, and she is passionate about giving back to the community and doing whatever she can to support young people who are experiencing homelessness. We're very lucky indeed to have her on board to assist Hope Street to raise our public profile and to put youth homelessness into the spotlight so that, together with Government, the corporate and philanthropic sectors and local communities, we can further our reach to young people," she said.
When asked what message she would send to young people who are experiencing homelessness, Jen said: "First of all, reach out for help, and stay at school if it's possible. Getting an education is crucial to finding a job and becoming independent. There is hope! I know plenty of successful people who came from nothing and have built lives full of rewarding careers and loving families. You have a better future ahead - don't give up hope."
Hope Street is marking Homelessness Week (4 – 10 August 2019) by calling for Melburnians to provide Welcome Home packs for young people who are experiencing homelessness. Make your tax-deductible donation today!
To learn more about youth homelessness and young people's lived experiences of homelessness, please see I Am A Young Person.