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Lenny looking at Gerald the pug

What would you give up, so a child doesn’t have to?

When Lenny came into MacKillop’s Frayne House, he’d given up.

He had given up on adults, having lost the one stable relationship in his life when his carer Marian relinquished custody after 8 years because of her own health issues.  He’d given up school, he barely slept, and worst of all … he’d given up hope.

Lenny’s story is not unusual for a teenager coming into residential care.  Forced to give up so much so early in life, Lenny felt hurt, alone and angry at the world.

Donate today can help a child like Lenny to turn the corner and rediscover hope.

What helped Lenny turn that corner was a little pug named Gerald and the way he brought our trauma-informed care model – Sanctuary – into Lenny’s life.

MacKillop Family Services adopted Sanctuary a few years ago, as a framework to help children and families who were suffering trauma to overcome adversity and find hope for the future.

One of the tools from Sanctuary that helps our children and young people is a safety plan.  A safety plan is a list of activities to help them manage their emotions in a way that will keep themselves and others safe.  The idea is that if they start to feel upset, they can refer to their safety plan and take action to stop their emotions from spiralling out of control.

For Lenny, this was quite confronting. That’s why house carer Kate brought a fresh approach to Lenny and his housemates through her pug Gerald.

“Kids related well to Gerald when he was there, and I figured if anyone embodies Sanctuary it’s a pug!” says Kate.  “The kids know he’s non-judgemental, and using pictures instead of words to convey how they are feeling can be easier if they’re upset.”

For Lenny, seeing Gerald the Pug’s safety plan was a game changer. 

Lenny took photos of Gerald that he put into his own safety plan, which he stuck on his bedroom door. Most importantly, he started to want something better for himself, which led him back to school.

One day when Lenny came home from school, he picked Gerald up and held on to him and wouldn’t let go.  One of his childhood friends had committed suicide.

Kate gave him space as he looked to his safety plan, taking some time out in his room, where he listened to music and played games on the computer. Then he came out and talked to Kate about it.

Make a donation to ensure carers like Kate can support our kids through grief and loss, and help them to hold onto hope, when they are prepared to give up.

Your gift this Easter could just help another child like Lenny to give up their nightmares, fear, and shame.

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  • Donation Hotline:1300 218 935