CatholicCare helps young people face adulthood with confidence

For two young locals, this year’s Youth Week Celebrations are particularly poignant, as they reflect on their incredible 12-month journey into adulthood.

Mark Potts of Cardiff is now 18 and transitioned from foster care to CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning’s (CatholicCare) Supported Independent Living (SIL) program one year ago. Mr Potts had been in foster care since he was 5, moving a couple of times before living with one carer for 12 years.

Mr Potts is very appreciative of the support provided to him through the SIL Program, saying “My caseworker has helped me in learning how to manage my bills and rent, and has helped me with work opportunities.

“Since finishing a Certificate II in Automotive Servicing Technology at TAFE, CatholicCare has helped me get some work experience with a motorbike mechanic.

“I hope to one day find  full-time employment, own my own house, start a family and be closer to my existing family - I just have to convince them to move up to Newcastle from Sydney first!

“The SIL team has been supportive, helpful and informative. With their help I have achieved a lot over the past year and am looking forward to what the future holds for me,” Mr Potts said.

Katrina Young of North Lambton is also 18, and has overcome adversity during her short lifetime to now study a Certificate III in Business Medical at Hunter TAFE with an eye to secure full-time employment.

“From ages 3 to 16 my great grandmother was my foster carer, until she was diagnosed with dementia in 2014. My older brother then passed away which left me in an unstable living environment and later homeless, whilst still studying at high school.

“I became involved in CatholicCare’s SIL Program in March 2015 and since then I have received support from a caseworker who  has helped me with  work and study and supported me to understand more about my Indigenous heritage. I have developed essential skills and now feel more confident in living independently. Since starting the program I have also regained contact with family members, which has been very important to me.”

“I am proud that that despite some setbacks in the past 12 months I have completed my Higher School Certificate and a Certificate II Traineeship with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy. I was also thrilled to be accepted into the University of Newcastle “Live, Learn, Grow” program,” Ms Young said.  

CatholicCare is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to provide support for the whole community including families, couples, individuals and children regardless of their age, gender, physical or intellectual capacity, religion or ethnicity. Its services include a range of child and family services, youth services, disability and community services and foster care training and support and cover the areas of the Hunter and Manning.  

CatholicCare Director, Helga Smit, said the SIL Program is changing the lives of countless young people. “The SIL Program provides housing and support for young people aged 16-18 years who have been living in Out of Home Care (including foster care) and are now ready to commence their transition to more independent living arrangements. SIL encourages young people to develop independent living skills, make their own decisions and work towards developing and achieving their life goals. We place a high value on empowering individuals to achieve their full potential and we are incredibly proud of Mark and Katrina’s achievements, especially during such a short period of time,” Ms Smit said.

National Youth Week is celebrated from 8 - 17 April. To learn more visit the Youth Week website.

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Lizzie Watkin Image
Lizzie Watkin

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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