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What do you want for Christmas?
This is a regular question we all ask at this time of year. But it’s a devastating one for kids like 15 year old Justin – one of the many young people who come into our care every day. Last year he told his foster carer:
“All I want is for my parents to say they love me – and not get smashed out of their minds.”
His family situation had been so volatile that he’d been moved into a foster home. Yet all he really longed for was to be with his own parents on Christmas day.
So many of the kids we care for feel the same – no matter how much they’ve gone through, they still hold out hope for that fairytale Christmas.
So home is where Justin headed at around 11am on Christmas morning. And it started out OK – a few laughs, a nice lunch. But by 2 o’clock, his father had knocked back many beers. By 2.30, he’d knocked Justin across the room.
Justin bolted and spent the rest of a miserable Christmas day wandering the streets of Melbourne alone. He was too upset and embarrassed to go back to his foster family early and admit it had all gone so horribly wrong.
‘Gone horribly wrong’ is all too common for these struggling young people who come under our wing.
Let me tell you about Melanie – a 19 year old who came to The Precinct last Christmas (our services hub and safe haven in North Fitzroy for homeless youth), after drifting to Melbourne from Ballarat and living rough here for nine soul destroying months.
That night, Melanie got the first warm, unafraid sleep she’d had in as long as she could remember. (The Precinct provides refuge accommodation as well as self contained units for longer term living.) But a safe place to stay was only the start…
Melanie’s caseworker took her under her wing right away and started working with her on a plan to stay off the street. She put her into The Precinct’s mentoring program – which helps these damaged kids get their social skills and self esteem back on track.
Then she helped her look at what her options might be. (The Precinct also links homeless kids to the kind of accommodation, education and training that’s right for them.) And in the end, Melanie started working in The Precinct’s own commercial kitchen – where she earned the hospitality qualifications that just this September got her into her first real job.
This Christmas looks a whole lot different to Melanie. And she is just one of the 284 young people who got that precious chance for a changed life at The Precinct last year.
We also need to tell you – the funding for all of our homelessness services is currently falling short by a very daunting $223,585.
That’s how much we have to find to make sure we can keep these critical programs open and changing lives at Christmas – and 24/7 every day of the year.
So please make one little gift count for more this Christmas
Reserve just one gift for someone you don’t know – for someone like Justin or Melanie or the thousands of others we help every day – who need not just a new toy or a nice little luxury – but a fighting chance at a better life. Click here to make a donation.