Wednesday 4 March 2020
“My childhood was extremely hard. My parents left me when I was three, so I lived with my aunty and uncle. I was treated differently from their kids, and it was an abusive situation. I felt bad about myself every day. My behaviour got worse and worse, I was getting into fights and wagging school. At 14 I ran away, staying on friends’ floors and couches. I was desperate, so I started stealing to survive. I soon got expelled, and no one else would accept me. I thought I was a goner, like I had completely stuffed my life up.
Then Mission for Youth (MFY) offered me a place. Honestly, my whole attitude was pretty bad at first but I kept going in for the free meals. I started hanging out there more, doing group activities and playing sports. I was having fun, and I felt motivated to be in a positive environment. It was a relaxing space where we could be open and honest, and I appreciated being treated like an adult. The staff spent time with us one-on-one. I could tell that they cared about me, and I began to seriously focus on where I was heading. I walked away from negative influences and mischief – it wasn’t in my mindset anymore. I owned up to the police about my past as well.
I put my head down in class, and worked towards getting my first NCEA credits. I left MFY with NCEA Level 2. They helped me land my first job at McDonald’s, and enrol in a panel beating course at WelTec. After becoming qualified, I ended up getting work with a flooring company. I’ve been in the industry for nine years since then.
Now I live with my partner and two sons. We just want to get ahead, so this year we are focussing hard on saving to buy a house. I want to set a positive example for my kids, and give them the best start in life because I came from the absolute bottom. Being a good father is most important to me – especially seeing as my oldest son is not my biological son. He calls me Dad, and that’s how I treat him. I make sure that he doesn’t feel like he’s any different.
Who knows where I would be if The Mission hadn’t been there at one of the worst stages of my life. I can’t really say any more than thank you. Those two years turned my entire life around.”
Kieran Meredith, Media & Communications Manager, email@example.com