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Youth housing

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Helping vulnerable young people

We helped a traumatised young woman get back on her feet and build a brighter future

Maria's father was an unemployed alcoholic who beat her mum often, and sometimes Maria and her brother too. Maria grew up thinking it was the normal thing to do. That every family lived like that.

"It was only as I got a bit older that I realised other kids didn't have drunk, violent dads," she says.

One night after her dad hit her, Maria climbed out her bedroom window with a bag packed with a few clothes. She was just 17. That first night she wandered the streets trying to keep warm. A youth worker found her and arranged for her to go to a youth refuge.

For two years Maria lived in refuges, or couch-surfed among friends' houses. Occasionally she would end up under a bridge or on a park bench. She was extremely vulnerable to harm, eventually becoming pregnant to a predatory older man, who afterwards wanted nothing to do with her.

Overcoming the odds

When she came to Good Shepherd, Maria was extremely anxious and was battling depression. She was pregnant, had no money, very little education, and no job skills.

"I didn't feel very hopeful about my life," she says.

We organised for Maria to see a mental health worker. As she started feeling better, she negotiated to stay with a friend for a few months. She enrolled in a hospitality course, with the aim to become a chef. When one of our houses became available, Maria moved in.

Having a secure place to live while she looks for longer-term accommodation means she can concentrate on her studies, and preparing for the arrival of her child.

"Now that I have some goals in front of me, I am much happier," she says. "And I feel I have a much brighter future."

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