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Facing challenges in order to flourish

The last 12 months have been incredibly challenging for many of us, including the young people in our Horizon Houses, particularly those in Victoria who spent much of last year in lockdown.

21 Apr 2021

“In a year when I felt my worst, I had strong shoulders to lean on.”

For 22-year-old Samantha, Horizon House helped her to not only get through the challenges presented by Covid but to flourish.For 22-year-old Samantha, St John of God Horizon House helped her to not only get through the challenges presented by Covid but to flourish.

“When COVID hit, I was fresh out of a two-year course at TAFE and was looking for employment,” Samantha said. 

“I had been kicked out of my last residence and spent the next two months couch-surfing so moving into Horizon House in East Geelong in July last year was an enormous relief – I finally had a stable place to live. 

“I found out about the program through my social worker and since then, I haven’t looked back, the trajectory of my life has completely changed.” 

A creative person by nature, Samantha is currently studying a Diploma of Visual Arts, which she will complete in December this year and has just started a new job at a high-end restaurant. 

“Long term, I’m hoping that my Diploma will give me the skills and qualification I need to pursue my passion professionally and build a career in the arts,” Samantha said. 

“In the short to medium term, my goals are to get my driver’s license, earn a stable income and live in a private rental for more than 12 months. 

“I’m about to transition into the next stage of the Horizon House program, which means I’ll be living independently but still getting the support of the caregivers here at the House, which is really reassuring and is helping me to feel a lot more confident about taking that next step. 

“Horizon House has helped me with a lot of what I call, ‘life admin’, which to be honest, is stuff that I find kind of boring but it’s really important and you need to know how to do it to live independently. 

“I’m talking Centrelink calls, being able to fill in forms, budgeting and the things that previously turned my brain into mush. 

“It’s also helped me learn how to live with housemates. When you’re sharing a house with five other people, you need to be able to compromise and respect each other.” 

Horizon House Support Co-ordinator – East Geelong, Jeannie Ward said she and her team are all incredibly proud of Samantha and what she’s achieved during her time with the program. 

“Samantha has really embraced and actively engaged with the program,” Jeannie said. 

“Not only has she commenced full-time study and secured casual employment, she’s contributed in such a positive way to the house. 

“Samantha started a vegetable garden during lockdown and put together care packs to send to our other Victorian Horizon Houses. 

“She’s a wonderful ambassador for Horizon House and we are all so proud of her and can’t wait to see what she achieves as she takes this next step on her journey.” 

For her part, Samantha said that having support from a range of understanding people has made all the difference. 

“All the staff here just want you to be happy,” Samantha said. 

“I’ve loved all the little adventures we’ve been on – trips to Kmart and that type of thing that they’ve gone out of their way to make really fun. 

“I just want to thank them all for being such great people. In a year when I felt my worst, I had strong shoulders to lean on.” 

Samantha wants young people who are struggling to know that reaching out and taking the first step is powerful. 

“The process might be long and rocky but as you move through it, the path becomes so much smoother,” she said.

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