Member feature written by Meg Baresic

In sociology, the term ‘third space’ refers to the area in our lives which is separate from the home environment and workplace. Third spaces are believed to be important for cultivating community, establishing a sense of belonging, and providing a home away from home. It would therefore come as no surprise that an organisation offering vital support to those experiencing homelessness in Brisbane is known, fondly, as 3rd Space.  

Situated on the ever-bustling Brunswick Street in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, 3rd Space is an inviting and friendly environment which seeks to provide timely assistance to people who are struggling. Originally established in 1975 and known for years as the 139 Club, the organisation remains one of Brisbane’s most vital places of respite for those experiencing homelessness.  

Susie and Jenny, two sisters who have been volunteering for over 15 years.

When I first arrive in the foyer at 3rd Space, I am greeted warmly by Carolina Francia, the Volunteers Manager. She is quick to introduce me to Susie, a volunteer who has been with 3rdSpace for 15 years (and who shows no sign of leaving). Most days, the centre aids approximately 80 people, with busy days seeing more than 100 faces enter through their door. The organisation provides help in a myriad of ways, with 3rd Space’s café operating every day alongside social workers, GPs, lawyers, and drug and alcohol support services.  

As I wait to chat to Susie and Carolina in the café’s seating area, a man I later come to know as Wayne approaches Susie and briefly speaks to her. He smiles as he passes her a small gift before making his way back in the direction he came. As Susie sits down, she tells me that Wayne has been coming here as long as she’s been volunteering, the two having slowly struck up a friendship. “He just knows all this stuff about mid-century furniture that you wouldn’t believe,” she tells me, smiling. “It just goes to show you have no idea of the stories behind the people”.  

Tabitha, Bronwyn and Lisa delivering fresh undies and socks.

It’s a common sentiment within the walls of 3rdSpace, and a really important one too. As we chat, Carolina notes that “Here, I get to meet people from all walks of life. It really makes you appreciate the diversity in our community and offers a new perspective. It makes you reflect on social justice and inequality. You just never know what people are going through when they walk through the front door”. Carolina goes on to tell me about a man who received help from 3rd Space twenty years ago. “He recently came back and gave us a card. He said it took him 20 years, but he wanted to come and say thank you”. The man now lives in Sydney and has a steady job, with 3rd Space providing the support he needed when everything else looked bleak.  

Such stories highlight the importance of volunteers who assist in keeping the organisation afloat, with 3rdSpace relying on over 100 volunteers to help with a variety of tasks.  Volunteers are able to assist on reception, in the café, or help with fundraising or organising activities for those who visit the centre. Susie’s long-term commitment at 3rd Space speaks not only to the importance of giving back but to the tangible impact that one person can have in an organisation like this one. So too does it speak to the impact volunteering has one her: 

“I love coming here every week and helping really interesting people that I never would have met otherwise. It has made me far more grateful for what I have in life.” 

 As I leave, Susie walks me through a garden that sits near the cafe. Known fondly as the ‘Hope Garden’ and tended to by volunteers, staff and those who visit 3rd Space, the area provides a place of peace for those who might be struggling. I can’t think of a more apt name for such a beautiful space, particularly given the importance of hope when the world isn’t being so kind. I can’t think of a better demonstration of human resilience than the stories of those who come here. I can’t think of a more welcoming organisation than this one, Brisbane’s 3rd Space.  

3rd Space Logo

3rd Space is a day-time drop-in centre where people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Brisbane can find support, dignity and hope.

At 3rd Space we form relationships, build trust and provide hope in a place of safety. Every person who comes to the centre has their own set of needs and their own story to tell. If you would like to support 3rd Space by volunteering you can find out more here.

About Meg

Meg Baresic is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Journalism at QUT. When she’s not drinking coffee or catching up with friends, Meg loves chatting to and learning from inspiring and interesting people.

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