We’re currently celebrating NSW Youth Week.
The annual event, which wraps up on Sunday, is a chance for young people to express their ideas and views, act on issues that affect their lives, and create and enjoy activities.
Samaritans’ youth services, as part of Newcastle Anglican, offer extensive support to young people in Newcastle and surrounding areas.
We have many tailored programs, including Reconnect – an early intervention youth service. It assists with things like counselling, improving relationships, mediation, goalsetting, and connecting with education/work.
Another service is the Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP), which helps young people who are at risk of homelessness or are currently homeless. We aim to help people return home or keep them at home if it’s safe to do so.
The outstanding work of our people regularly leads to good news stories about young people being empowered and encouraged to flourish within our communities.
During NSW Youth Week, Samaritans staff have shared some positive recent experiences from our Reconnect and HYAP programs.
Reconnecting with family
“When I first met Helen, she struggled with her anger and was having considerable conflict with her parents and peers, and she was also at risk of homelessness because of the ongoing conflict and a breakdown in the relationship between Helen and her family. Helen had the support of her school, but they were concerned that she wasn’t using the strategies they afforded her.
With the support of Reconnect, Helen could identify more effective coping strategies by participating in a program called ERIC (Emotional Resilience and Impulse Control). In addition, she enthusiastically engaged in external counselling through another service. This counselling was paid for by Samaritans HYAP and assisted Helen and her parents, who also participated in counselling.
There were some setbacks, and, despite Helen’s parents not wanting her to leave home, they had some difficult times to overcome with support from Reconnect.
However, the family continued counselling, and Helen thrived with the support around her. Her self-awareness, maturity and empathy grew, and she could reflect on her aggressive behaviours and communication. Her parents also continued to invest in the relationship with Helen, connecting with her by walking, shopping, and building a garden.
To combat the loneliness and isolation that Helen felt, HYAP paid for singing lessons at a local community centre, and Helen felt confident about getting a part-time job. Her studies have improved, as have her social relationships.
One of the highlights came when Helen was the Master of Ceremonies and sang with enthusiasm, courage, and confidence at her school’s End of Year celebration. It was beautiful to see her parents, brother and grandmother in the audience were visibly moved and immensely proud.”
“A participant who will be referred to as ‘C’ struggles with mental health and has been seeing a psychologist.
Reconnect was brought in to assist C in some practical areas, with the largest issue being C’s social isolation. C has been regularly bullied through school and identified that he didn’t trust anyone and didn’t have any friends.
Reconnect began by working through how to carry conversations with people, as well as initiate friendships. C was then pulled into one of the Reconnect Group Programs where he had the chance to put some of the skills he had been building in individual supports into practice. Through this, C found he had a lot in common with one of the other young people.
This was pointed out to parents and the school, and a weekend trip was organised. C now proudly says he has a good friend who he trusts, which wouldn’t have been possible without Reconnect support.”
“Another participant who will be called ‘H’ came to Reconnect as he had disengaged from school and was having struggles with anxiety.
Work began by talking through H’s anxiety using narrative therapy techniques. Within a few weeks H identified that his anxiety symptoms had decreased significantly, and he had been able to return to doing activities with friends he enjoyed (going fishing).
From there H noted he wanted to get into work. H was then supported as he began working on a resume, cover letter, and did some practice interviews. Within a few weeks, H had a job interview that he attended on his own and was offered his first job. Reconnect helped H find more self-confidence and helped him work through what direction he wanted to take his life in.”