Blake’s* heartbreaking story begins when he was just a baby…
I was born nearly 8 weeks premature and addicted to heroin. My birth mother was a drug addict and sex worker. She already had 4 kids in foster care when she had me and she made it clear she didn’t want anything to do with me.
My birth mother was my dad’s sister-in-law who he had had an affair with. Mum always resented me for being the product of my dad’s infidelity and I was always told that I ruined her life, and should never have been born.
I know now that parents should provide their children with love, warmth and safety, but all I can recall is my childhood filled with bruises, cuts, scratches and burns.
My memories, good, bad and all the in-betweens, start the year I turned 5. It was when I first recall my uncle sexually abusing me. For the six years it lasted, I was too scared and ashamed to tell anyone. During all this, I also have memories of my mother hitting me with belts, not giving me food or drinks and taking away the few things she knew made me happy.
My dad passed away 4 months before my 13th birthday. He went to the hospital with pneumonia and a week later I was at his funeral. I had no friends at school to lean on for support; instead they picked on me when they found out. I lost count how many fights I had got into and dropped out of school. At this point I was at my lowest low and I self-harmed for the first time.
By the time I was 15 I’d left “home” for good. And this was the start of my cycle of couch-surfing, sleeping on trains and squatting in abandoned warehouses. In the winter it was too cold to sleep in the park so I had to sleep in tunnels, underground car parks and storm drains.
One day I bumped into Father Chris and his youth workers while I was walking past the food van. They told me I was always welcome to get a meal and would be here when I was ready.
A week later I went back and they recognised me. For months I felt invisible and suddenly I wasn’t. Two youth workers came over and sat on the grass with me while I had pumpkin soup, fresh buttered bread and a hot cup of tea. We spoke like old friends. They were awesome and made me feel safe and comfortable, something I haven’t felt in a long time.
That day really changed my life because for the first time in a long time, someone showed they care. I still have a long way to go, being treated with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, anxiety and clinical depression, but I know I am strong enough overcome these. I can move forward with my life because Father Chris and the youth workers have shown they believe in me. And that makes me believe in myself.
More than that, they gave me a future.
Blake is living proof that a hot meal and conversation really can make all the difference.