Youth Services puts Matthew on the road to his best life
When Mathew connected with Council’s Youth Services in 2016 at just 16 years of age, he had dealt with family trauma, unstable accommodation and faced homelessness.
With support from Council youth workers, Matthew has since turned his life around.
"Things were a bit hard a few years ago, I was being bullied at school, I didn't have a permanent home and I didn't feel like I belonged anywhere,” Matthew said.
Regular visits to Youth Central and the Frankston South Hangout provided Matthew a chance to play video games, make friends and access support services.
“I started going to the holiday programs too, which were really good. I felt like it was a place where I belonged. I was able to socialise in a safe environment, with safe friends."
The youth team helped Matthew navigate life out of home, including building his confidence so he could join employment agencies and look for work.
As Matthew had been unable to clock up any learner driver hours, he was encouraged to sign up to the L2P driver training program.
He was matched with a volunteer mentor who prepared him to sit his driving test last August, which he passed with flying colours.
After getting his licence Matthew also got a job at Bay City Holden.
"This is the first job I have really felt comfortable in. It gets me out of the house and I am now productive with my days. I am learning new things and the extra income means I have some opportunities when it comes to where I live."
He encouraged struggling young people to keep persisting.
"You will find something and there's lots of support out there, you just have to ask for help."
Frankston City Council Mayor Michael O’Reilly congratulated Matthew on his outstanding efforts.
“Incredible people like Matthew are the reason we offer these services which help those aged between 12 and 24 reach their full potential,” Cr O’Reilly said.
For further information about Frankston City Council Youth Services visit, frankston.vic.gov.au.
Painting a purpose: Youth Street Art Program (Pictured: Sheldon (far right) with Council Youth Workers with project participants)
Street artist and former local business owner Sheldon Headspeath grew up in Frankston and understands the struggles facing our local youth. Bullying, homelessness, volatile family environments and a lack of stability can make daily life tough for young people in Frankston City and beyond.
Inspired to make a difference, Sheldon joined forces with Council youth workers to devise a Street Art Program which sees local youth take part in creative street art projects.
Recently, Sheldon worked with local young people to produce a “Frankston” mural on the outside wall of Brake Care, near the entry ramp to Bayside Shopping Centre. Over 12 weeks, the group transformed the barren wall into a stunning work of art, which now welcomes commuters travelling into the city centre.
We sat down with Sheldon to learn a little more about his involvement in the program.
Tell us about the project and how you became involved.
The concept was an idea by Frankston City Council Youth Workers. It aimed to give young people a platform to express themselves through art, while developing skills to help them transition through challenging times. I was asked to get involved while working the counter at the Frankston street art supply business my wife and I opened in 2015, State of the Art.
Why are projects like this important?
They keep young people engaged with their community and help them develop life skills such as team work, scheduling, communication and completing a project under instruction. Participants also get to install artwork they can be proud of, in streets frequented by them and their friends.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your work?
Seeing the young people build confidence as the project comes together is really rewarding, as is seeing the pride they feel when they realise what they have achieved.
Challenges usually arise during initial introductions when confidence is lower – generally due to lack of experience in the art form. This quickly changes as the program is designed to suit all skill levels.
As a young person growing up in Frankston City, how did you spend your time?
Much of my youth was spent on the same path as many young people who join this program. I would have jumped at the opportunity to be involved in something like this and I feel it plays a huge role in changing their direction for the better.
Projects like these create self-worth, belonging and purpose in young people. Why is this so important?
I think the program boosts these attributes while adding confidence and a sense of achievement young people might find hard to gain through other channels. They also develop passion and develop a skill they may not have known they had.
Beyond the youth involved, how do projects like these benefit local businesses and the wider community?
A project like this makes the community proud of where they live and gives people another reason to visit. Locals and the business community have been overwhelmingly supportive and generally get as much of a kick out of the artwork, as the participants. Public feedback while on site is also unbelievably positive and adds to the confidence of those involved.
Are you involved in any other projects aimed at making Frankston a better place for young people?
A few of our projects are in their early stages and we are keen to create as many art spaces as possible. This will ensure we continue engaging as many young people as we can in positive community relations.
I would like to thank Ilya, Taela, Ryan, Ken and all the staff at Frankston Youth Central for their involvement in the program, and of course, all the incredible young people.