The H.O.P.E. Program - Housing and Outreach to Promote Empowerment offers young parents the chance to seek support to address underlying issues, escape the generational cycle of homelessness, and ensure a brighter future for them and their children.
Significant risks are associated with homelessness – including violence, rape, trauma and addiction – children risk being removed from their parents and placed in foster care. Desperate to hold on to their kids, these young parents often attempt to ‘hop’ between crisis refuges in an attempt to appear as if they have safe and secure accommodation. This is dangerous for themselves and for their children. Stable, medium term accommodation gives these parents the opportunity to train, gain employment and reconnect with family. Read more here for the latest update on HOPE.
Here are three different stories from three brave new mums who have come through the H.O.P.E. Program; Hayley, Lepeka and Sarah*.
Sarah's Story: Keeping Her Family Safe
Sarah* spent the first 18 months of her life in foster care. She has never met her mother, whose substance abuse and criminal offences were the reason she was placed in Out-of-Home Care.
Sarah grew up in south west Sydney with her father who worked as a metal caster before a back injury and worsening arthritis meant he was no longer able to fulfil his duties. They lived in an unsafe neighbourhood and when Sarah was 15 they were desperate to move. Without the security of a steady income, Sarah’s father took the first opportunity to relocate, and the pair settled in a cramped storage unit.
Sarah split her time between the unit and ‘couch surfing’ at friends’ houses. At just 18, she fell pregnant to her then-partner, who ended the relationship during the second trimester. He was charged with harassment and an AVO prevented him from contacting Sarah and their unborn child. Shortly after this, Sarah was referred to the H.O.P.E. Program.
Through H.O.P.E. Sarah received subsidised accommodation and practical support, and when she gave birth to her daughter she had developed the parenting skills she needed to provide a safe environment for her family. Sarah now has a positive relationship with a new partner and they are expecting a child.
Sarah and her family hope to move into private rental accommodation closer to her partner’s workplace. Sarah’s dad regularly visits for dinner and remains a strong support for her.
*Name has been changed