55 Central, previously known as ACRAH, was founded in 1975 by Pandora and Kevin Young. Pandora’s first husband, John, had become addicted to alcohol. At this time there were very few treatment or support options available in Perth and John’s life spiralled until he lost his livelihood and his family had to move on.
As Pandora rebuilt her life with her new husband Kevin, she never stopped trying to care for John who by this time was living on the street. With Kevin’s support, the couple would drive the streets at night, seeking John out from under bridges, in derelict buildings, parks and cemeteries. In doing so, they built relationships with other street present people in the area could see the heartbreaking impact of homelessness. The couple could see an urgent need for care and support of these people.
First, they delivered soup from a borrowed old grey Ford Falcon, the “Grey Ghost” but they knew more support was needed. They could see these people needed shelter and care and so, after a short period of time, Pandora and Kevin began inviting people to share their home.
Kevin and Pandora purchased a house on Field Street in Mt Lawley which they developed into a home for 32 people. As more and more people came looking for support, the Youngs rented more properties. Over the next few years, the couple had rented 7 properties and could assess and house up to 100 people, including women and children. No government funding was received and the Youngs relied on support from local businesses and church groups.
The Youngs applied for incorporation of the organisation naming it ACRAH (Association for Care and Rehabilitation of Alcoholics and Homeless). The Youngs gifted their home in Field Street Mt Lawley and the block of land next door to the committee. With the organisation now up on its feet, Pandora and Kevin moved to New Zealand to make a new start.
The Health Department funded a nurse to provide care for clients and support growth of the organisation. A Support Worker was also employed to care for people with mental health issues.
The (then) Department of Housing and Works allocated 10 community based properties to ACRAH under a peppercorn lease agreement. These were used to provide people with mental illness a safe, stable place to live in the community.
1995 - 2001
Staff worked under a joint venture arrangement with Department of Housing and Works to design and build a purpose built accommodation facility on ACRAH land at 55 Central Avenue Maylands.
Grand opening of the new building. ACRAH changed its name to 55 Central. The building, still in use today, has the capacity to house 24 men and also features kitchen, communal areas and an administrative office. Support workers, funded by the (then) Department for Child Protection, provided a greater level of professional, evidence-based support with a shift towards interventions such as case management, education and supported referral.
The organisation has grown and now employs 20 workers to deliver 24/7 services to clients and provide administrative support. 55 Central now supports over 200 people per year.
A dedicated team is committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness. We deliver trauma informed, strength-based and recovery-focussed services using interventions that include intensive case management, peer support, coaching, mentoring and supported referral. Our workers are skilled in delivering tailored support to people from diverse backgrounds. Workers regularly support people around mental health issues, alcohol and/or other drug misuse, family/relationship issues, tenancy matters, legal issues and financial issues. Co-located on site at 55 Central are specialist alcohol and drug counsellors, psychology services and medical services.
55 Central is an active, respected participant in the community services sector, attending networking events, consultation and training sessions. 55 Central continues Pandora and Kevin Young’s work in educating others and advocating for the needs of people who are marginalised, disadvantaged and isolated in our community.