“My first experience of warmth was at Lighthouse. I’m Aedan and I first heard of Lighthouse when I was 19 years old. I was just avoiding becoming street homeless by the skin of my teeth when a dear friend mentioned Lighthouse.
I spent 18 years in the out of home care system, moving from placement to placement – over 70 times. I had never truly experienced a family style relationship that lasted.
All of a sudden, I was surrounded by all these wonderful people who truly cared for me, in my Lighthouse home and in the extended Lighthouse community.
I worked towards so many goals while I was in Lighthouse, I attended tertiary education for the first time and gained a qualification in the area I wanted to work, after missing almost all of high school.
I gained my first consistent employment at the service where I did my student placement, I got my license and a car, started managing my drug and alcohol issues, built secure and safe relationships with a bunch of caring people within the organisation that I still maintain a year after having moved on.
After years and years of chaos, turbulence and despair, I finally found myself having quiet days of reflection where I could just enjoy small beautiful moments like sitting out in the sunshine or going for a walk with my carer. Small moments that people who haven’t faced the level of disadvantage and trauma I’ve faced take for granted but I had never got to enjoy.”
Dylan was abandoned by his mother when he was a young baby and spent his entire childhood in institutional settings and foster homes where his need for nurturing experiences weren’t met.
He lost his ability to trust others and never felt a sense of belonging, which compromised his self-worth.
Dylan had missed out on some of the basic primary experiences that a child needs. He was rarely hugged. He often went hungry. He never had a birthday celebration and he felt ashamed of his outgrown and worn clothes.
He could never join a sporting club or participate in after school activities or camps. His education began to fail at a very young age. Moving around different families and institutions continuously meant he had to make new friends again and again. As soon as he settled, his life was uprooted and he was left feeling alone and unloved.
As a teenager, searching for a sense of family and stability, Dylan turned to a group of negative peers. He was on a pathway of destruction, physically and emotionally, and he never dreamed of himself having a promising future. He was constantly in survival mode.
Dylan is one of the 44,000 homeless young people growing up in Australia and living with trauma from being homeless.
Dylan experienced difficulties building and maintaining healthy relationships and resorted to self-harm to cope with the pain of his past. Dylan developed mental health issues and became addicted to harmful substances.
As a direct result of neglect and childhood trauma, young people like Dylan are left feeling helpless and unwanted; eventually finding themselves homeless.
When Dylan arrived at Lighthouse he was offered the safety he’d been searching for. Dylan was carefully matched with our Carers and other young people in our Clayton Lighthouse home.
During the 18 months since Dylan has been part of our program, he has found somewhere he could heal, pursue his education and make positive friendships in the Lighthouse community.
He has been supported by his Carers to attend regular psychological counselling sessions at our Youth Resource Centre and has started to unpack some of his childhood trauma. Feeling connected to a positive community at Lighthouse and knowing that he can be part of our On For Life Outreach Program has enabled Dylan to trust and grow.
Our safe homes and unique model of care give these kids the opportunity to thrive and dream.