Falling through the cracks

Ian Carter Anglicare WA CEO
Ian Carter AM | CEO | Anglicare WA

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. Proverbs 19:17

As the nights become colder and darker there are still far too many young people living without a safe home to escape to this winter. Sadly, more than 44,000 children in Western Australia live in poverty. Children like Kate* who recently met one of the youth workers, Lorna, from Anglicare WA’s Street Connect programme. Like so many girls in Western Australia, Kate battled with the pressures of high school, keeping up her singing lessons, maintaining a social life, and spending time with her family. But Kate had an added challenge. Adopted at a young age with a particularly strained and difficult childhood, she struggled to deal with her feelings about her past and her challenges at school.

Her mental health suffered and she soon became victim to older online predators. “One of these men she was chatting to took advantage of her and assaulted her a number of times,” Lorna said. “She was 13.” As this was happening, Kate was also kicked out of her home. Suddenly, she was launched into an environment she was not ready for. She was exposed to things that no child should ever see. When we first met Kate, she was sleeping in a stairwell. As the CEO, when I hear stories like this, of young women so full of promise and potential, finding themselves in tough situations and putting their lives at risk, I’m reminded of all the other young people who have fallen through the cracks in our state. I never want to turn any of these young people away.

Anglicare WA’s Street Connect programme is a unique service that aims to make connections with vulnerable young people, to show them that they are valuable and help them to turn their lives around. The service is run by a team of youth workers, like Lorna, who provide case management support, food vouchers, financial assistance, clothing and informal counselling via the Street Connect Outreach Bus. Now, Lorna is focusing on helping Kate rehabilitate and feel optimistic about her future, even helping her to sing again. “She still needs to be a kid. She still needs to enjoy herself, and feel proud of herself,” Lorna said. “Singing is something that empowers her, improves her mental health, and gives her ownership of who she is again.” It’s early days but Lorna won’t give up on Kate and Anglicare WA will do whatever it takes to help her achieve her dreams of going to university, reuniting with her family and singing. I call upon the Christian community to help us support more young people in need this winter. To donate and make a difference to the lives of young people in our state, please call 9263 2091 or visit our website.

*Name changed to protect identity

Article published in August 2018 Messenger magazine