“Being a first time mum was really scary, I pretty much had nobody.”
When Lepeka called CatholicCare she was 21 years old, 20 weeks pregnant, and on the verge of homelessness. She had just broken up with her partner and had no other support. She didn’t know what she was going to do.
Thankfully she called CatholicCare looking for a counsellor to help her deal with her situation and was referred to our HOPE program that was able to provide her with so much more.
The HOPE program provides specialised support to young mothers under the age of 25 who are pregnant or have a child under the age of two.
Lepeka received accommodation in one of HOPE’s transitional properties for 18 months to provide a safe place for her and her newborn son, Kaleb, to begin their lives and get on their feet.
However, housing was not the only support she received. When young families start working with HOPE, a detailed case plan is developed and tailored to meet each family’s individual goals and needs.
Lepeka was immediately connected to an early childhood nurse, who visited her at home to check on the health and development of her son and to make sure she was coping okay. The program also helped her apply for Centrelink payments because she had no source of income.
Lepeka’s case worker, Nurmala, visited weekly to make sure her son, Kaleb, was reaching his developmental milestones and to check in with Lepeka to ensure they were on track to reach the goals she set in her plan.
Not all families need assistance with housing. Some need more extensive support to develop their parenting skills or help to build and maintain healthy relationships with their friends, family or partners. While other young mothers may need assistance to manage issues around domestic violence or addiction.
The aim of HOPE is to first make sure there is a safe home environment for the child to grow. Secondly, to give the young mother all the tools and support she needs to be the best parent she can be. The final stage is to support the young mother to reach her full potential, through further education, training or employment, providing a strong foundation for her family’s future.
Today, Lepeka and her son Kaleb are thriving.
“Our lives are more on track now that we’ve had help from the HOPE program.”
With support from HOPE, Lepeka and Kaleb have found housing through a private rental that they now call home. Kaleb has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy but thanks to the help provided through HOPE’s Early Childhood nurse he is doing really well and is now attending childcare. Lepeka is excited about her future and has started studying a Certificate in Medical Administration at TAFE, while looking for work as a Disability Support Worker.
Lepeka is just one of many hundreds of young mothers the HOPE program has helped over the years. HOPE gives children the best possible start in life and supports families to live and thrive.
To find out more about CatholicCare Sydney’s HOPE program please visit www.BuildingHOPESydney.org or call CCareline on 13 18 19.