Youth Education Support: Turning Despair into Hope

Turning despair into hope
Turning despair into hope

Named after her feisty grandmother, Irish-born Julia Mosley is a vibrant, charismatic woman with an unstoppable ‘can-do’ approach to life. In May 2009, to assist disadvantaged young people lacking education or training/skills to find employment, she and two friends, Trish Wade and Sue Hamilton, started Youth Education Support Inc. (YES ). Julia is its CEO.

About 70 volunteers: retirees from successful professions, business and general careers, assist YES. They help in the YES Op Shop at 55 Mahoneys Road Forest Hill, the admin office, or on a committee. To ensure more young people get the support they need, there are no paid staff and Whitehorse City Council supply their office premises at 79 Mahoneys Road.

Donated sleeping bags are provided to young homeless people; this is managed through their ‘youth care workers’. Although they would like to sponsor all applicants, those with drug problems are referred to clinics and professionals.

“The many stories we encounter can be heart wrenching, but that we can help where possible gives us a real sense of purpose and the determination to do whatever we can to help the young ones to have a promising life. To offer an option that may prevent them travelling down the road that leads to drugs, crime and despair. Most encouraging of all is that they work so very hard once they get the support they need. Knowing that someone believes in and cares about them, can mean everything.” – Julia

[Ed. Names have been changed.] Ann: Family breakdown and loss of home left mother, son and 16-year-old daughter Ann living in the family car. A local mission offered support with showers, laundry and food vouchers. Ann was offered emergency housing and with the help of her ‘youth care worker’ she applied to YES for sponsorship with textbooks, laptop, stationery, clothing and a Myki card to assist her travel to her studies at TAFE.

She also needed help with English and maths. We provided paid tutors in both subjects. The total cost to sponsor Ann was around $1700. Ann was very keen to escape the confines of the car, hence, happy to attend school. Although this support led Ann to full employment in administration, she later contacted us to see if we would consider sponsoring her to study dentistry. It was a good outcome.

Max: Because of his parents’ drug and alcohol abuse, Max spent most of his young life in foster care. Among many challenges there was never any food in the house. Throughout his teens in foster care Max was rebellious and angry. Although several people tried to help him, it was his brush with a kind policeman that led him to Fay, a very special ‘youth care worker’ who spent 12 months mentoring him and helping him break down the many walls he’d built to protect himself from hurt.

When Fay found Max wanted to take photos, she contacted YES who bought him a camera: it has not left his sight! Finding outstanding subjects in nature, wildflowers and birds, cleared away his aggressive nature; he is now considering a career in engineering although he knows that he needs further study before he is ready but he has hope now and has a new direction.

Jane: Eight-year old Jane and her brother were abandoned by their parents; it was devastating for them. Welfare agencies assisted with accommodation and schooling but when Jane was a teenager her foster father beat her over a two year period. She had lost contact with her brother and given up hope. She felt alone in the world: no skills, bullied at school, no friends. Teaming up with another disconnected girl, they lived under bridges, facing terrifying and challenging situations; both survived. The world was their enemy; no future hopes. Jane was found trying to steal from the Op Shop.

After many conversations we convinced Jane to let us help her. It wasn’t easy, but we succeeded through our contacts in getting accommodation for both girls. Devoid of confidence, ‘make-up’ was the only educational course that interested Jane so we sponsored her to do a basic cosmetic course in the city. She did so well that we sponsored an advanced course.

After one year Jane was looking better and felt for the first time ‘life could be okay’ and did volunteer work in the shop which helped increase her general life skills. She’d like to be a welfare worker and may go back to school to study for her VCE. Jane said that the reason she wanted to change her look by using make-up was because she felt her parents abandoned her because she was ugly.

YES also supports students who only need textbooks, computer stationery or transport costs and sponsors 16-24 year olds in courses at recognised education facilities to gain a recognised ‘certificate of achievement’ required by potential employers. No cash is provided to applicants; their course fees are paid direct to the education facility on the student’s attendance. Tutoring in English/Maths is provided at Forest Hill (year five primary and up).

“Our aim is to turn despair into hope; hope that they too can lead a positive life, achieving success in their chosen career, leading to a home and a family”- Julia

This is a ‘right’ which is taken for granted by the majority of our young, but, not for thousands of others who feel outcasts within their own community; many of whom are homeless through no fault of their own. Many did not get the help they needed earlier in life and some turned to drugs and crime. “We know from our experience these young people whom we have helped have gone on to lead successful lives in employment and relationships. Some are moving into professions which they never thought possible for them. All we ask of the young people we assist, is to give back to the community when they can, to help someone in need can come in many forms, like mentoring, sharing their story to encourage others.”

YES Inc. wishes to acknowledge donations from Seavic8 in Box Hill which donated $20 000 to help sponsor and tutor disadvantaged young people and an ‘amazing lady’ who donated her home in Forest Hill to house homeless girls. For more information about the work of YES head to their website at www.yesinc.com.au

About Raine Biancalt 8 Articles

Raine Biancalt has a Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing & Editing) and a background in both government and corporate worlds. She enjoys art, history, writing and old movies.