Over the past four years, Y Streetball has supported adults experiencing homelessness or disadvantage in North Melbourne.

The program runs every Tuesday and Sunday at North Melbourne Community Centre (NMCC) and gives participants a place to blow off steam playing basketball, as well as taking a shower, sharing a filling meal and socialising with friends. It’s a vibrant community program that welcomes all people, regardless of their age or socio-economic background.

At Y Streetball, everyone works together to have a good time. It’s a safe space where everyone can be relaxed and get away from the world for a bit. The togetherness is great for our mental health and gives us a family vibe.” James*, a Y Streetball participant.

Luckily, in April 2021 we were able to celebrate the program’s four-year anniversary during our break between lockdowns. It was a great way for the community to reminisce on how far they and the program had come. Many participants started attending the program while facing homelessness, disadvantage and lack of social connection. Seeing them now thrive under the guidance of program founder and umpire Dave “Disco” Gunstone is heart-warming.

During the celebration, participants talked about how Dave had mentored them through their various situations and how they are now doing better – in part thanks to Dave and the program.

I was so excited that we could have this celebration! During lockdown I felt super isolated, but Dave and the Y Streetball group was always there for me over the phone or at our BBQs. I’m keen for more regular hang outs again.” Pete*, Y Streetball participant.

Y Streetball is funded by YMCA Open Doors. Usually funds go towards court hire, but in 2021 we were able to provide the participants with exclusive Y Streetball t-shirts and inclusive basketball equipment to support the All Abilities session for those with varying disabilities.

We hope that by having to attend multiple sessions to get a t-shirt, it encourages people to stay in the program for longer, which then gets them away from those habits and gives them a renewed hope, outlook and sense of community.” Chris Harding, former NMCC Centre Manager.

The addition of these new t-shirts and equipment has only amplified the sense of community, pride and support felt by the participants and their community.

I’m so excited to be living my dream of expanding Y Streetball. I hope by doing this, more people feel supported and empowered.” Dave “Disco” Gunstone, Y Streetball Founder.

Dave and the Y Streetball team have plans to expand the program to other recreation centres once restrictions ease in Victoria.

*The names of participants have been changed to protect their anonymity.

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