Sleeping on the streets is isolating, dangerous, and extremely stressful. This is the cold reality Ashley* knows all too well.
“Mum was in a bad way with her mental health. So when a family member sexually abused me, I didn’t know how to tell her. As a young child, you have no idea how to handle that. Eventually I found the courage to tell her. But when the rest of my family found out, they threatened us if we went to the police.”
“Mum and I had to pack what we could and leave. She didn’t have any money so for a long time we were homeless, couch-surfing and sleeping in refuges.”
Over four years, as they struggled to find a safe place to stay for the night, Ashley and her mother went to countless court dates to testify against Ashley’s abuser.
They were in and out of court so many times that school became impossible. Her attendance and grades were so poor that it meant that she had to repeat year 10, so Ashley dropped out.
She suddenly was a child stripped of her self-worth and left with crushed dreams.
It’s hard for homeless young people to focus on school when they are uncertain of where they’re staying that night. Getting a good education to secure your future seems pointless when you feel there’s no future to look forward to.
“We were shattered when we found out he wasn’t getting charged. Mum tried to get me back into school, but I couldn’t face it. I was too scared someone from the family would find me if I went back. At that point, I was referred to Youth Off The Streets.”
The changes were incredible.
Ashley enrolled in one of our independent schools focused on providing a supportive learning environment for kids who are homeless, disadvantaged or dealing with trauma.
We encouraged her to attend counselling sessions, finish school and provided her with the skills to find a job. It wasn’t long before her confidence blossomed, her grades went up, and she made life-long friends.
“My life changed in so many ways and my attitude shifted. I finished school and landed a great job in hospitality.”
Giving up on our kids is never an option. It’s one of the reasons Ashley is doing so well today – because she had people in her corner, people like you, cheering her on, and supporting her no matter what.
Although she has a traumatic past, with the warmth and kindness of our supporters, her future is looking brighter each day and her confidence is growing from strength to strength.
“Thank you for helping me to be the best person I can be. Thank you for creating this opportunity for kids like me who just need someone to believe in them. That little bit of hope can change our lives forever.”