MyMounties: Top of the class
Matt Noffs knew transforming a derelict tyre workshop in Liverpool into a youth centre was never going to be easy but with ongoing support from Mounties his dream is now a reality.
Founded in 2009, The Street University is a drop-in service for people aged 12 to 25 to generate optimism, teach skills, give hope and create a sense of community.
But it took Noffs five years to raise enough money to get the ‘unofficial uni’ for southwest Sydney up and running.
Inspired by The Wayside Chapel, founded by his grandfather Ted in 1964, Street Universities focusses on issues related to drugs, mental health, employment, education and crime.
Street Universities now help over 15,000 young people across Australia each year. The aim is to help young people realise their own dreams, harness their potential and to create positive outcomes for their lives and their community.
“Street Universities wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Mounties. They were there at the very beginning and were the first organisation to get behind us,” Noffs says.
“When we first approached them with the concept it was a big audacious idea, we didn’t know if it was going to work, but the board backed it and now there are eight of them around the country.”
The initial funding from Mounties helped buy the old tyre shop and transform the building into a basketball court, café and studios. The regular support now helps fund specific programs ranging from traditional therapies like counselling to t-shirt making workshops, sports programs, and hip-hop workshops.
It is this progressive approach to social work with grassroots community participation that opens up dynamic and democratic spaces for marginalised and displaced cultures.