Couch surfing is a term used when a person hops from one place to the next as they are in need of a place to stay, because they do not have any stable accommodation.
So let’s be honest, no-one really wants to be couch-surfing, couch-hopping or sleeping in a stranger’s house. And there are a number of reasons why you may be in this situation, such as conflict with parents or fleeing from domestic violence, and not being able to get a bed in a crisis accommodation service. So of course you turn to your friends or someone that has a spare room, mattress, lounge or even a floor. Your friend’s parents want to help you out and so they say:
“Yes they can stay until they work things out with their parents”
This could be up to a week, but it could turn out to be longer.
At this stage you may be feeling somewhat relieved, as now you have a safe place to stay, and this gives you an opportunity to sort out what your next steps are going to be.
To prevent you from living on the streets, here are some tips to secure your temporary situation, so it can become a stable situation!
TiP 1: Practice and develop your communication and negotiation skills
Questions to ask your friends’ parents or host:
a) “How long do you feel comfortable for me to stay here with you”?
b) If you’re on youth allowance/Centrelink benefit –
“Can I give you some money to help with food and electricity?”
c) “Can I help with any chores around the house”
If you know your friends’ parents well, you could ask them:
“Do you have any suggestions on how I can talk to my mum or dad about……?”
“Can you help me talk to my parents about….?”
TiP2 – Practice building “trust” with yourself and others!
When your host asks you “will you be home for dinner” answer them honestly. Or you might want to ask them “When would you prefer me to be home?”…If they see you could have a negative influence on their son or daughter this may cause conflict, and put you at risk of living on the streets, or the stress of having to find another place to stay.
I do acknowledge that maybe the reasons you left home in the first place could be based on an argument you had with your parents about curfew times, however keep in mind that these people are trying to help you not control you.
TiP3 – Here’s an opportunity to be responsible and show people you care!
Never take your temporary accommodation for granted, be respectful to the host’s environment by cleaning up after yourself. Don’t assume they will be like mum or dad, and nag you to clean your room up…they will more likely talk to their son or daughter about their frustrations, not you directly. But this could cause arguments between them, and it will be you that will face the consequences not your friends.
TiP4 – Taking care of yourself and others!
If you are using drugs or alcohol probably best not to use these substances where you’re living, as this could be seen in a negative light, and put you at risk of homelessness.
Also, if you go out to a party, probably best not to return intoxicated, as this could cause unnecessary conflict. Make sure you have a friend with you who are sober, and who know about your situation, and can help you out if you need it!
TiP5 – Get Help!
Take the courage to really think about the reasons why you’re couch-surfing. Ask yourself “can I work out my differences with my parents” and if you need support, please seek professional help.
FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR COUCH SURFERS, THEIR HOSTS AND THEIR PARENTS – CHECK OUT OUR COUCH SURFING FACTSHEETS HERE
Websites and phone numbers that maybe helpful
Youth Homelessness Line – 1800 234 566 – 8am to 10pm
Y-Foundations – www.yaa.com.au
Reconnect services – anglicarereconnect.wordpress.com or www.ysas.org.au
Relationship Australia – 1300 364 277
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Head Space – www.headspace.org.au
If it isn’t safe for you to return home, please call or visit your local police station. Or you can contact the Domestic Violence Support Helpline 1800 551 800.