Living on the streets of Sydney, or couch surfing at a friend’s house, is no way for an 18-year-old to live. Instead of thinking about studying, going to work or trying to move on with life, you are worried about where you are going to sleep, what you will eat, how you will cope.
Homelessness was a reality Tyson* had to face at the end of last year. Kicked out of home just after finishing high school, exploited by a ‘friend’ who kept demanding higher rent to sleep on the floor, and with no other options available, Tyson was desperate.
He called Link2Home, a NSW referral service to help homeless people, who suggested Tyson call MacKillop’s Blacktown Hills Youth Homelessness program.
This is when Tyson started to turn his life around.
Case worker, Sara Fonokalafi, met with Tyson and offered him accommodation at one of MacKillop’s youth homelessness properties in Western Sydney. Tyson moved in at the start of the year and is now feeling a lot more hopeful while he focuses on his education and learning life skills to help him become more independent.
“Mum forced me to leave home and I was struggling for a while”, said Tyson. “I was couch surfing and spent a night in emergency accommodation where someone stole my shoes. But even with everything going on I got the marks to get into my preferred course at university. I’m loving uni and working part-time.”
Sara meets with Tyson every fortnight to identify his goals and ways to support them, and to talk through any problems he might be facing, or issues he needs to talk through. The lead tenants who manage the property offer daily support and advice.
“Tyson is making such great progress”, said Sara. “When he first arrived he was very uneasy, unsure and stressed. When I explained how we could support him and how the Semi Independent Transitional program would teach him valuable life skills you could see his whole face change. By having a safe, stable home he can now put his energy into uni and work, rather than finding a place to sleep at night.”
And Tyson agrees,
Life is so much better now. I feel safe, I am learning how to manage money, cook and pay rent. At this stage I just want to push on ahead. I’m focusing on becoming more independent and reaching my goals.
The Blacktown Hills Youth Homelessness Service supports homeless young people (or those at risk of becoming homeless) to get their lives back on track. It is available to young people aged between 16-25 years living in Western Sydney and is available by referral only. Referrals can be made by phoning MacKillop’s Sydney office on (02) 8881 4800.
Link2Home - 1800 152 152 (9am - 10pm seven days a week).
*Name changed and model image used to protect privacy