It has been a busy summer so far and I’ve enjoyed many social gatherings and catching up with old friends in the Lighthouse community. Now well into February, we have begun to settle back into our routines and look forward at what 2016 has in store for us. I am so pleased to be able to announce the appointment of a new CEO at Lighthouse Foundation, Simon Benjamin, commencing immediately.
Simon joined us in 2014 as the Clinical Care Manager, having previously worked as a therapeutic specialist at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA). He brings over 13 years experience in the delivery and management of a broad range of community services, particularly in programs assisting children, young people and their families from backgrounds of complex trauma. Simon has worked in a number of therapeutic settings, including at the Mulberry Bush School in the United Kingdom, a specialist therapeutic community recognised as an international leader in the field.
Simon is committed to developing ongoing partnerships with other community organisations to broaden the reach of our services and of the evidence based Lighthouse Model of Care. I am excited to work closely with Simon as we strengthen Lighthouse’s position and continue to work towards ending youth homelessness, together.
Susan Barton, AM
Founder & Director, Lighthouse Foundation
I was at Lighthouse for about seven months, during year 12. Before that I was surrounded by a lot of violence and alcohol and substance abuse. I wasn’t doing so well at school and I was trying to move out on my own. I was seeing a counsellor who thought it would be better for me to be around other people, so he referred me to Lighthouse. It took about five months, from when I first applied until I moved in. Once I was accepted into the program my Community Care Worker introduced me to everyone and I started getting to know my carers before moving in. I’m working on my confidence, so that was really important to me when I first met everyone. I think I did really well, I just relaxed and asked all the questions that I wanted answered.
That was my first time really being out of home, I had couch surfed at friends’ places a bit but that’s different to being in a house with strangers, which is kind of what it felt like when I first moved in. It was a big experience for me. I felt lonely and a bit scared sometimes, but with everything I’ve been through, I just push through every day. I felt like being at Lighthouse was good for me, things were going to get better.
I got along well with my carers and the other young people in the home. One of the girls, she and I were as close as sisters. We all did our own thing, but we were so happy to come home to each other, it was awesome. My favourite thing about Lighthouse was the gatherings, when we got together with everyone from the other homes for barbeques and events. It was like a big family, which is something I never really had. It was just amazing to have everyone around, everyone laughing, different personalities everywhere. I think that’s what made it feel like a family.
Don’t get me wrong, I had my ups and downs. One of my biggest challenges was trying to listen to someone else, listening to their feedback, their advice, and taking what they said on board. Before coming to Lighthouse I was kind of like, ‘I don’t listen to no one’, that’s just who I was. But when they told me I needed to be home or go to bed at a certain time I started to think, ‘okay, this person is my carer, they’re caring for me, I should listen to what they have to say’. Now that I’ve moved out and I’m on my own I think it’s actually nice to have someone else’s opinions and feedback sometimes.
Having a whole care team around me was sometimes difficult. I don’t really like people knowing my business and knowing there was this team of people talking about me was difficult. But it just means people care about you. That’s how I looked at it anyway.
My schoolwork improved so much while I was at Lighthouse. I’ve just finished year 12 and I won an award for the most improved. I’m picking myself back up again and starting to think about the future. I always said that I wanted to be a psychologist, but I think the way I’m going now I want to be a youth worker. I don’t mind though, as long as I’m helping people. I just want to look after people and see them happy.
My advice for young people in a situation like mine is to speak up. If you feel it’s wrong, don’t do it. If you feel like it’s right then go for it, take some risks in your life. Do what makes you feel good.
Jade moved out of Lighthouse into supported student accommodation in 2015.
Please note: we change names and use stock photography and volunteer models, to protect our young people’s privacy.
Wishing Tree gift drive 2015
Every year we make it our goal to give each young person at Lighthouse at least one gift from their Christmas wish list, and this was certainly realised last year. With the biggest Wishing Tree gift drive to date, we received generous donations from over 22 companies, families and individuals. Gifts included art supplies, toys, cook books and journals, as well as a brand new BMX bike, a guitar, boots and a set of professional knives for a chef in training! We can’t thank you all enough.
The Basket Brigade brings Christmas to Lighthouse
The Basket Brigade arrived at the Youth Resource Centre in December like an army of elves bearing food and gift hampers for all of our young people, particularly those who have transitioned to independent living and remain close as part of our outreach community. The goodies included delicious Christmas treats as well as staples like pasta, rice and longlife milk. It was wonderful to be able to provide festive food for so many young people who are managing on their own on very limited budgets. Thank you to everyone at Basket Brigade for your generous contribution to the Lighthouse holiday season.