Our carers are key in delivering the quality of care our young people need to heal and thrive. This month we caught up with Billy, one of our carers from a therapeutic home to hear about his experience being a carer at Lighthouse.
Billy, Therapeutic Carer
Father of 4
Avid golfer and cricketer
Billy came to Lighthouse last year, the day after his 38th birthday, having worked as a truck driver for over 20 years. During his truck driving career, he’d come across many people experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough.
“Over the years truck driving I’d be out in the middle of the night doing deliveries and I’d see a lot of homeless people or disadvantaged people. If I had 20 bucks I’d go buy some bread and some chicken. I just always wanted to help”
He completed alcohol and drug support training so he could put his desire to help in the community into action. After working with a 14-year-old as part of his drug and alcohol support training, he realised that this type of work provided him with a lot more meaning and satisfaction. Through this, he made his way to a Lighthouse role.
Since then, Billy has been making a difference in the lives of our young people. One particular young person was having big outbursts of challenging behaviours when Billy first started. After four months, and showing consistency in his care, he witnessed her becoming more mature, with a transition to independent to living a realistic possibility this year.
Billy often gets told that he’s ‘not a normal youth worker’ and that he has ‘a different way about him’. This different way seems to get a good response, and the young people find him ‘chill’ and easy to trust. Being a father to an 8, 9, 11 and 14-year-old is also a help.
While Billy loves seeing positive change in the young people’s lives, he also realises that there will be difficulties along the way and it will not always be a linear journey. It can be emotionally and physically tiring at times. He spoke of a young person who was having violent outbursts, both physically and verbally. After one of these outbursts, they sat down together for six hours to reflect on what happened. Billy helped them with some breathing techniques that would help them to find a sense of calmness during an episode of feeling anger. This simple lesson helped the young person and it is a tip they have gone on to use to find calm. After difficult days, other Lighthouse carers and staff are always there to provide support.
“If someone finds out you’ve had a huge day, they’ll message you and just ask if you’re okay”.
A young person was explaining to Billy how it can be hard to remember the many past carers in their years in the system. For some young people in out-of-home care, they may have seen over 50 carers.
When asked about tips he had for people in other careers who had thought about becoming carers, he said “Just do it. There’s no specific formula for somebody that cares for somebody. Everyone would bring something different to the table and it doesn’t matter who you are.”
After nearly six months at Lighthouse, Billy has been able to find more meaning in his work than ever before and is sure to help shape many more young lives in the future.