As we head into Christmas, a time where families come together to share in the love of the holiday season, I ask that you spare a thought for some of Australia’s most disadvantaged; our homeless youth. While many young people are spending time with their family and loved ones it is easy to forget about those who have no home or family to turn to.
This time of joy for most is often a period of sadness and isolation for our disadvantaged youth who lack a sense of belonging. Often these young people turn to alcohol and other drugs to numb these negative feelings.
These choices can lead down a slippery slope to addiction, mental health issues and family breakdown. Youth Off The Streets helps young people address these issues though our services and outreach but sadly we cannot reach everyone in this holiday period.
This year on Christmas Day Youth Off The Streets is providing lunch for some of our most disadvantaged young people and their families at our KOCH Centre for Youth and Learning. The simple act of providing a hot meal and a place to come together on Christmas day means so much to these families.
If you can, I encourage you to host or participate in a community event to support families and young people in your local area. Together in this season of giving, we can provide a welcoming environment for those who may not have one this Christmas.
After over 40 years of working with young disaffected youth, let me tell you that the greatest gift of all is the gift of giving.
I hope you have a fantastic holiday period and a happy new year.
Father Chris Riley,
CEO and Founder of Youth Off The Streets