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Our-Stories-1_03

TODAY, OVER 700 YOUNG PEOPLE CAN CALL LIGHTHOUSE HOME.

These stories are from current and past Lighthouse young people and remind us how important a loving home can be. (Names have been changed to protect identities).

Liana's Story

 Liana was raised in a family situation where she was constantly moved around, and slept mainly in the car with her mother and younger siblings. Her mother had fled from a violent relationship and had severe depression. Despite her best efforts, she wasn’t able to care for her young family. Liana was often left in charge of her brother and sister for extended periods while her mother tried to raise money … any way she could.

Social workers moved Liana into a foster care family when she was 13, but she didn’t settle and bond with her foster carers. She skipped school repeatedly and acted out her angry feelings against her foster family. She eventually ran away at age 15 and after couch surfing at friends’ houses, she experienced incidences of sexual abuse. She felt like a worthless human being and began to harm herself and engage in high risk behavior. She was referred to Lighthouse by a social worker at an emergency refuge, due to her young age and the danger of further self-harm.

Liana spent a year with Lighthouse, during which time she was able to complete Year Ten and begin VCE. She connected well with her carer and enjoyed taking her turn at cooking and, unusually for a teenager, being responsible for household chores. She became very proud of her Lighthouse home and enjoyed the Friday nights when past residents would come back for a family meal.

A family reunion was carefully monitored by the Lighthouse Care team, and she was ultimately able to be reunited with her aunt, and begin a new life in a country town in Victoria. She is now completing Year 12, and remains in contact with the Lighthouse team through the Outreach support program. With their psychological support, she has negotiated a new relationship with her mother, who now is doing better personally, and is considering relocation to the same town with Liana’s two siblings.

James's Story

Seventeen year old James came to Lighthouse after a period of homelessness in which he moved around various emergency shelters and refuges, and slept in a car with a friend. He found himself alone after his single mother, who had complex mental health issues and drug addictions, moved in with a new partner. James, who had endured abuse for a long time within his own home, wasn’t welcome in the new living arrangement.

Lighthouse provided a secure and safe family home in which James could rest and recover, and get some medical attention for his health issues. With unhappy past school experiences, and very low confidence, he was reluctant to return to school, and after several months, and several attempts at re-entering school, his Lighthouse Carer then focused on assisting him into beginning a TAFE training course which will qualify him to gain work in Aged Care.

Now almost 19, James is taking longer than the usual time to complete his training certificate, and he will need a great deal of further support to gain his qualification. He is shining in the hands-on work placement elements, but is struggling with the written assignments, and in the demands of meeting time commitments. There are many positives to his situation, as he is gradually learning to manage the routines of getting himself to and from his study, and he is taking better care of himself.

For James, coming into the Lighthouse program has enabled him to get the psychological counselling he needed, in order to deal with the traumas of his past. His future is looking hopeful, and his Lighthouse Carers will be there beside him, helping him make each step towards the life he deserves.

Andrew's Story

I wanted to write to you and firstly thank you for the care you gave me throughout some very turbulent times in my young adult life. Upon reflection, I can see that I was deeply troubled and desperately in need of a purposeful direction in life. You and the volunteers at Lighthouse certainly gave me that opportunity (although i probably didn’t appreciate it at the time) and for this I just want to say thank you.

Rebecca's Story

Lighthouse has given me so much, it’s changed my life… I now know how it feels to be loved and really cared for. It’s everyone in Lighthouse that makes it what it is. Lighthouse is a giant family that’s just amazing.

My biggest thanks to everyone, you have filled my life with love and shown me more kindness than I have ever felt and it really seems I have been given new eyes and see more beauty everyday and a new heart.

Annalise's Story

I cannot begin to express what Lighthouse has done for me. For lifting me up out of the gutter and giving me warmth, comfort and not just a home but a family full of love. Love that I struggled to understand initially, but love that is forever with me.

Thanks to Lighthouse, I have felt for the first time in years that I am me again.