How your donation is changing someone’s life today: MacKillop Family Services

MacKillop Family Services is one of Give Where You Live’s long term community partners.

Over the past three years, the Foundation has granted MacKillop $110,000, making it possible for them to deliver their innovative Therapeutic Life Story Work, to support young people living in foster care in the Geelong region.

Therapeutic Life Story Work is a creative process to help young people in care express in pictures, words or colours their feelings about how the loss of family and home has impacted their life. It also supports carers to give them a better understanding of how a young person’s history can influence any current challenging behaviours.

Tom’s story

For 10-year-old, Tom*, who is living in foster care, MacKillop’s program has been life changing. Before the program, Tom was disconnected from school and family and was feeling really lost.

After participating in the program, Tom became happier going to school, was more confident in himself and started to value who he was. It also helped him to heal and build relationships with his family again

Hayden’s story

Tom’s story is echoed by Hayden*, who had experienced severe trauma, was unable to live with his mother and siblings and had no understanding of his background or why he was living with foster carers.

Supported by his foster carers, Hayden worked with MacKillop TLSW practitioner, Meisha Taumoefolau to better understand his life and why his mother was unable to care for him.

For Hayden, the program has also changed his life: he now understands who he is and where he has come from. It has also helped him to accept that while his mum loves him, her illness has impacted her ability to care for him.

For the first time, Hayden can now verbalise his emotions and what he wants. He can identify who he feels safe with and has a sense of security that allows him to dream about his future.

“Our goal is to help a young person make sense of what they have faced in their life and why they are now in care.”– Meisha

MacKillop Practitioner Meisha said the difference TLSW was making to the lives of so many young people was incredible: “I wish every child could have access to the Therapeutic Life Story Work program. Every child deserves the right to know and understand their life story.”

“Ultimately, we want to help them manage issues like unresolved anger and grief and help them build the emotional skills needed to express how they are feeling and improve their mental health and wellbeing.”

“The feedback from young people doing this work is so positive,” says Meisha.

“One 15-year-old said Life Story Work helped put together the missing puzzles of her life: the parts she didn’t understand or know about now seem to be filled and she is feeling more whole.”

*Names changed to protect privacy.