I grew up in a big family but there were lots of times I felt really alone. My dad was a drug addict and my older brothers ended up going down the same path. My mum was never in the picture because she left when I was two.
My brothers said that Mum left us because of Dad and I guess I was the last thing she wanted. Sometimes I can’t help but feel like Mum leaving was my fault.
I’m not mad at my dad. He did everything he could to look after all of us. He even got us a bigger place to live in so me and my brothers could sleep in a bedroom together.
Dad was good like that, but for as long I can remember, he was always on cocaine or ice. I was pretty scared to be around him when he was high but I was also afraid I would lose him. He would shout at us a lot and sometimes get violent for no reason. My brothers were also using drugs and started to get the same way.
When Dad was on edge, I would go and visit my neighbours down the road. They were nice to me and said I was always welcome to visit if things were tough at home.
By the time I was 12 I started using drugs and staying out at night. I didn’t want to go home. I hated school because the lessons were hard and I was getting bullied.
They said I was dumb, I was trash, my dad was a loser and no wonder my mum didn’t want me. I was always in trouble and getting into fights. No one knew what I was going through.
When I was 13, I knew I had to get away from home. I love my dad so it was the hardest day of my life to walk out the door like Mum did all those years before.
In 2017 I moved in with my neighbours and they’re now my foster parents. In 2018 my foster dad enrolled me at a YOTS school and I started Year 9 there. I was pretty scared because I didn’t think anyone would like me and I might get bullied again. But my foster dad told me to give it a go, I might like it.
And I really like it here. I get to do some really coolstuff and I’ve even made some friends. There’s always someone friendly to talk to. The teachers are nice to me, they ask how my day is going or if I need help with anything. I’m starting to figure things out on my own now and doing better in class which feels good.
I really like going to school, learning new things and seeing my friends. It’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears but I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the help I got from my foster family and everyone at school.
Dylan* is now 15 years old and about to complete Year 10 at one of our independent schools. In his spare time, he works as a tyre fitter and when he isn’t working he does boxing. The routine, discipline and encouragement he has experienced at school, his part time job and his love of boxing are helping him to overcome his past trauma and look forward to a better future.
Thank you for helping young people like Dylan overcome their past and go on to lead brighter, happier lives.
*Name and image changed to protect the privacy of the young person