"I could see that someone was living on a cold concrete slab... It turned out to be a young girl" said Jessica, an Open Family Australia Outreach Worker.
When Jessica, stumbled across the make-shift shelter, she knew the person living there needed help. She suspected the inhabitant was a young girl and left a note for her, introducing herself and offering support.
The young girl turned out to be 14 year old Sarah. While Sarah wasn’t ready to trust a stranger, she exchanged notes with Jessica who also left practical help – a swag, a food parcel and toiletries.
It took time, but Sarah began to realise that someone genuinely cared for her. She left a note for Jessica saying she was ready to meet. Jessica listened to Sarah’s story.
Sarah had been raised by her mum, who was in-and-out of psychiatric wards due to her bipolar disorder. Her mum also had a new boyfriend who didn’t want a young teenager around. He was a heavy drinker... and violent. After months of fights and physical attacks, Sarah felt she had no alternative but to leave home. She started off sleeping on the couches of school friends, but eventually her friend’s parents asked her to leave. The school encouraged her to return home, but she was too scared and didn’t want her mum to get into trouble by telling the police about her mum’s violent boyfriend.
Rather than hurt her mum, Sarah chose to live on the streets. She stopped going to school and made her temporary bedroom on a concrete slab.
There, she ran into older kids on the streets – all heavy drug users – who told her she must steal to stay alive…
By the time Jessica found Sarah, she was underweight, exhausted and had a chest infection. She was terrified of being made to return home and also scared of her nightmarish ‘bedroom’ on the concrete slab.
Jessica immediately rang a medical clinic and drove Sarah to the appointment. She then connected her with welfare support. Jessica also rang all the local housing providers and found Sarah safe accommodation.
Thanks to our work at Open Family Australia, this devastating story about a young girl's homeless journey had a positive outcome.
Sarah is safe now, but there are thousands of young people just like her who need our help. Please, donate now to help young people like Sarah.