James, 17.

I had been living with my mum, my step-father and my cat. The relationship between me and my stepdad was completely destructive, mentally and emotionally.

After 7 years of violence I ran away from home and was homeless. I couch surfed at first with a friend until that accommodation was no longer an option either. My school became aware of my situation and put me in contact with TINOCA that same day. I was nervous about whether I would be able to be accommodated. I called up and was invited to come in that night. I remember trying to be open-minded about what it was going to be like.

I’ve now been at TINOCA for 2 months. I am happy to say that I have great attendance at school and am on my way to doing well in my ATAR exams. My stay at TINOCA has been really beneficial, not only do I have a safe place to stay but my social skills have improved, I have had minimal days off school and am coping with the stress of exams and homelessness. Next up? I plan to go to university, get a private rental with a mate and possibly rebuild my relationship with mum.

Without TINOCA I would still be homeless and moving from couch to couch, or I would be back in a toxic family environment, unable to succeed or be myself.

UDIA is supporting the work of Youth Focus this Christmas.  UDIA members can text CHEER to 0437 371 371 today and donate $70 to support a young person this Christmas.