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2020 in Review: James’ Story

Written on October 27, 2020

James is a 19-year old clubCREATE member from Queensland. We recently chatted to James about how 2020 was for him – the ups, the downs and everything inbetween, and talked about how he has come out the other side. James is also a talented artist, who entered art in the Queensland art competition, and had his work featured on the back of our last magazine!

James’ artwork on the back of the most recent clubCREATE magazine

Thanks so much to James for being so open and honest – and for sharing his insights with us. Here’s 2020 in review for James:
Q1. 2020 has been a very different year for many people… tell us about your 2020, the highs and the lows?

Where do I begin? Ok wow- So at the start of 2020 I  wanted to repeat grade 12. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I ended up re-enrolling; I had gotten out of foster care at 18 and self-placed instead of being transitioned properly. At this place I shared accommodation with others I knew. Now that I look back on it that was a terrible decision.  Halfway through year, they kicked me out, they were manipulative people that really just never did any real good to my mental health. I ended up on the streets for a bit before I got in contact with an old ex-carer who let me couch surf for a week. I then contacted Donna from CREATE, who helped me search for places.  I got into St John’s Anglicare homeless shelter.  I ended up there for three months where I got back on my feet, it was very difficult and  I wanted to give up. My mental health went down, I was closing myself out. I didn’t know what to do with myself so I started joining a lot of zoom meetings with CREATE, try to be the Young Consultant that I am. I didn’t tell anyone that I was homeless except Donna who knew. When I told other CREATE staff they were surprised because of how I presented myself, they had no idea! Rather amusing at the time it was.

Then the art competition came up and I said would enter; there were two pieces I did cause one of them was used in the back of the last magazine.

Then I got asked to do another entry and at the same time I was looking for another share house. Funny thing though – the day after I signed up for the share house, I got contacted by a worker from Youthlink with the Next Step Program. He called me up and said ‘James – I just found you a new apartment’ – it was so new it had that fresh paint smell!  I was really surprised because I didn’t think anything was going to happen but then this permanent legit place, came out of nowhere I was amazed, I smiled, I laughed, I cried. The next day, I signed the lease and it was mine! I did my best to get my health up by doing gym and going to see my psychologists, so it was a really big step for me.

One of James’ artwork

Q2. What are some of the challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?

Homelessness, mental stability. I never had time for myself. Really I don’t know how I overcame the hard times, there were so many times I wanted to not get out of bed… just let the world swallow me. I didn’t give up even though I wanted too so badly.

Q3. What has helped you get through this year?

The support from other people, my online friends really helped me, my psychologist, support from Youthlink, Next Step, YETI, CREATE, St John’s and Child Safety – I pulled Child Safety back into my life as they didn’t transition me properly so I got them back to provide support. I literally made my own support crew.  I knew for a fact it wasn’t going to come out of nowhere, I had to do it myself.

Q4. What have you learned this year in terms of life lessons?

I’d have to say patience and just, go for anything that comes your way – I said to myself if anything comes at me, a placement or whatever I am taking it – this apartment happened to come out of nowhere as I said. Wasn’t going to not take the chance;  ‘Live a little – take the chance, I didn’t take the chance and it cost me.’ ‘It was scary to leave ‘everything I knew I admit but you may find leaving it behind in the chance something could be better for you was the best decision I made’ –  this goes for anyone, just go for it! There is nothing stopping you… If someone offers you help, just take it!

Q5. What are your hopes for 2021?

“If something comes your way, you have to take it” I’m never making that mistake again, listen guys you don’t have to give the opportunities you get in life away to someone else. You may find something better as I did. That is what I used to do, I used to pass up opportunities and then would end up in bad circumstances.  Look at your circumstances and weigh up the pros and cons before you pass up something that comes at you. I hope in 2021 people will use this interview as a guide. I hope you all have better years in those yet to come.

Thanks to James and all our clubCREATE members who share their stories, artwork, and thoughts with us. If 2020 has been a challenging year for you, or this interview has brought up any issues for you, you can always reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.