Crystal has come through hard times and now has hope for the future. Photo by Leah Kelley
“Thank you so much for never giving up on me. It has really helped my anxiety talking to you and having food delivered when I was too scared to go out because of the virus. I don’t know what I would do without you,” Crystal said.
As a baby, Crystal was neglected and abused by her heroin-addicted mother. At six months old, she was removed from her mother and placed in foster care.
At 16, Crystal ran away and ended up living on the streets of Melbourne. Concern Australia’s Steps Outreach Service team first met her when she was 17. She was sleeping rough with a group of young people under a bridge near the river.
It took months for Crystal to trust us. She gradually began to tell us her story and allow us to help her. We referred her to a housing service and advocated for her until she and her partner finally secured a short-term stay in crisis accommodation.
Over the next three years, our Steps workers supported Crystal in her move to safe, stable accommodation, attended court with her and drove her to appointments with mental health and alcohol and other drug services.
Each small step Crystal took towards positive change was celebrated. They were mini-milestones that have been so important to building her self-esteem and confidence. Even when Crystal relapsed and took three steps backwards, we stayed with her. We never gave up on her and just kept affirming that we believed in her and knew she could do it.
Today, Crystal is still in safe, stable accommodation and takes pride in decorating her small flat and making it her own. It’s such a beautiful thing to see. We’ve loved helping her with donations of furniture, beds and household goods.
It’s so hard to describe the impact the pandemic has had on young vulnerable people like Crystal. The past few months of social isolation due to COVID-19 have been incredibly difficult for her, with a significant impact on her mental health. Our Steps team has continued to support her through this time with regular phone contact and delivering donated groceries, cooked meals and care packs. Crystal was especially grateful to receive her birthday gift of clothing and a journal, which reaffirmed to her that she is deeply cared for.
Crystal recently completed an online training course and is looking for a job as a veterinarian assistant. It’s been such a privilege to watch her confidence grow and achieve significant goals she’s been setting for herself. Our Steps team will continue to support her as long as she wants us to and help her to achieve her dreams and goals.
The Steps Outreach Service is just one of our programs that supports vulnerable and at-risk children and young people. There are other young people like Crystal who need our support. With your help we can.