Hope and refuge on the Mid-North Coast
Laura was barely 14 years old when she first found herself at risk of homelessness, after her maternal great-grandmother became ill and could no longer care for her. Relationship breakdown meant she couldn’t live with her mum or dad either.
Hope came for Laura at Wesley House–a refuge for youth at risk of homelessness located at Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales North Coast.
“I was scared,” recalled Laura. “But I was also relieved that I had somewhere to stay.
That ‘somewhere’ in Laura’s story was Wesley Mission’s Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP), which provides children and teens who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with an integrated system of personal support and crisis accommodation.
The main focus of the program’s work is on family reconciliation, targeting younger clients, like Laura, in the 12-15 year old age bracket that falls through a gap in the sector. Last year, the centre recorded a 70 per cent success rate in reuniting its young clients with their families in the region.
Laura’s hope and refuge has come in the form of the caseworkers at Wesley Mission’s supported Accommodation Services who have inspired her to help other young people like her. “They’ve been a part of my early teenage life and have really impacted it.”
“Everything happens for a reason and now I’m thinking about the future and what it can be.”
“I want them to know that it does get better eventually,” Laura said. “Coming from my perspective, you always felt like no-one cared about you but these people did so much for us. The amount of stuff they do for us, no kid can do themselves.”
“A lot of kids push this help away,” she added. “I’ve seen a lot of kids go through the refuge because they don’t like the rules and stuff but it’s just a waste of their time. It can change your life.”