Inspiring young people and driving change in the community

This Homelessness Week, we are celebrating the achievements of some of the inspiring young people in the St John of God Horizon House Program.

4 Aug 2020

Samantha Wilson

Geelong resident, Samantha, says the program opened up new experiences and opportunities for her and also supported her ambition to bring about social change in her local community.  

“I enjoy advocating for students who want their voices heard and now I am a strong advocate for the Geelong City Youth Programs where I continue to gain opportunities,” she said.

“While I was in high school I was nominated and won the Australian Defence Force Long Tan Leadership and Teamwork Award, and this year was also noted as Australia’s Global Citizen of the week.”

The 20-year-old has most recently been volunteering at the Salvation Army Op Shop as a store assistant and also volunteered for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, all while studying International Studies and Commerce at university.

Samantha first heard about St John of God Horizon House through the Barwon Child Youth and Family service, when she was looking for a safe place to live. She was given the option to apply for solitary living or apply for the Horizon House Program where should would live with other young people while learning vital life skills.

“I chose to live at Horizon House because I didn’t feel ready to move into my own house by myself and I wanted to be around others who were going through a similar experience to me,” Samantha said.

Horizon House provides a life skills program that teaches residents essential skills such as cooking, cleaning and personal budgeting to help prepare young people for independent living.

Samantha said the program hasn’t just given her a place to call home, but the opportunity to learn new skills and the motivation to attend school.

“The carers at Horizon House have taught me many essential skills from simple things like how to put a quilt cover on and life-long things like how to budget, which makes me worry less about money,” Samantha said.

“I think I would have struggled without Horizon House and have less motivation to go to school, but I also would have felt alone.

“Horizon House is great because you are with young people who are going through a similar situation and the carers really care about your safety and wellbeing.”

Samantha’s advice to other young people, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, is to not be so hard on yourself and have a positive mindset.

“As you build your life skills and get connected to other young people, you start to feel less alone and more encouraged,” she said.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself because not many people are going through or have gone through what you have, so just try your hardest and have a positive mindset in life.”