Blake* was homeless and a heroin addict at 15. His childhood was horrific – marred by violence, neglect and abuse before he ended up on the streets, sleeping in storm drains and tunnels to keep out of the cold.
Blake was in terrible health both physically and mentally – he was skin and bones, no more than 40kg. The abuse Blake had endured for years had made him severely depressed and suicidal, and he had been in and out of juvenile detention and mental health facilities since he was 14.
It had been days since Blake had said a word to anyone when he met two of my youth workers at my Food Van.
The day he met those youth workers changed Blake’s life forever.
As my youth workers sat with Blake while he had pumpkin soup, bread and a hot cup of tea, they talked. It started with some idle chit-chat and a few jokes before Blake started to feel comfortable with the people sitting with him.
“They were awesome and we talked like old friends.”
You have to remember what an incredibly scary and lonely experience being homeless can be. It’s hard for these kids to trust anyone because the truth is, they have been let down by people far too many times. But here he was, eating, laughing and talking to the youth workers like they’d known each other forever.
For the first time in a long time, Blake felt welcome. After years of being pushed away, he felt that despite it all, there was hope and that he could belong. Blake felt comfortable enough to open up to my youth workers about his circumstances.
“They really listened and understood what I was going through. I felt like these were the sorts of people who could help me.”
After that night, we moved quickly to find crisis accommodation for Blake and enrolled him in our drug and alcohol rehabilitation program at Dunlea.
It didn’t stop there.
Blake went back to school and finished his HSC. He got help about his mental health. He has been drug-free and clean for many years, and lives in a loving home with his young family.
He has a job and in his spare time, Blake runs fundraisers for us to help other kids who were like him when he was younger.
It was long road to recovery for Blake. And it started with just one meal and one conversation.
That’s what a little warmth and kindness can do for young people in need, and that’s what your generous donation can do today.
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