On Wednesday 16 March Naomi, Rebecca and I attended the First Birthday celebrations of Next Step After Care at the Beenleigh PCYC. Next step is a consortium of organisations that include Life Without Barriers, Uniting Care Community, CREATE foundation, Integrated Family and Youth Services (IFYS), South Burnett CTC and Youth Empowered Towards Independence (YETI). Next Step is promoted to young people leaving care as an organisation who will “try and help you sort out the things you’re having trouble with, no matter how big or small” with hotline that can be accessed 24 hours a day either by phone or text. There is a really cool video you can watch here that explains it all. Since its inception Next Step have had 500 referrals with the last month being the busiest. It is clear that there is a strong need for the service and the stories to follow will give you some indication of the real difference it can make to the lives of a young person leaving care.
There was a really great turn out for the event that included the Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. The Minister spoke very fondly of the initiative and said that she keeps track of all the great work being done through the Facebook page. The Facebook regularly celebrates inspiration stories of young people doing great things after gaining support from Next Step.
The event was kicked off with some music from a CREATE young consultant that is currently travelling the world touring his music and recording his first album in the America. He spoke profoundly about his connection with music and the land and his passion in bringing stories of hope to everyone that was made possible through the support he received from the CREATE Foundation. The music was simply breathtaking and created a wonderful feeling of connectedness to the room through his messages of hope.
The MC for the event was a CREATE Young Consultant named Matthew (will be co-facilitating the next GForce meeting with the QFCC) who held the floor with style and had numerous uplifting analogies and stories from his past that really brought the event to life and reminded everyone why they were there. The event saw Matthew facilitate a discussion with 3 other young people that had been supported by Next Step. The stories that were presented were stirring and demonstrated the importance of the service to young people looking to leave care and enter a pathway to independence with confidence. One of the young people (Ryan) talked about his struggles leaving care until he was provided with a life line from Next Step. Ryan is a community radio personality and voice over artist but was having trouble supporting himself in these two very specialised fields. Next Step ‘stepped in’ and provided Ryan with funding to attend an important training opportunity that has led to work in the voice over industry and other high profile opportunities that now has him firmly on his feet.
Other stories that were presented included a young lady who for the first time in her life has a safe place to stay and was supported to become kinship carer of her sister The last young lady to speak been supported to attend University and is now on her way to completing something that she had never dreamt about previously. In the words of Matthew (I hope I get this right) “brick walls are strong right? But, each brick is easy to pick up and has little strength on their own. When they all come together they build a brick wall and it is only together that we can become that brick wall of strength.
If you would like to see some more photos of the event you can access them here. I also took a picture of a poster that explains the Next Step process really well that is part of the gallery.
If you would like any further information about Next Step , CREATE of the event please let me know.