Sod turning signals start of new future for young people
A unique support program for young people leaving foster care took a step closer to reality in north-western Sydney today.
Representatives from Wesley Mission, the Property Industry Foundation and Lendlease symbolically turned the first sod at Wesley Mission’s Ermington property – the site of the new program – to mark the start of the project.
Two buildings known as Wesley Herring House and Wesley Lynford Lodge are being renewed to accommodate up to 22 young people. They were vacated several years ago and will undergo a major facelift with significant internal refurbishment, fitting out, painting and long overdue renovations. The buildings are not being demolished or expanded.
The renovation is a project of Wesley Mission supported by the Property Industry Foundation’s PIF House Program. Wesley Mission CEO the Rev Keith Garner said the project had grown from a very significant need in the community.
“As one of NSW’s largest private providers of foster care we are aware of the importance of the challenges facing young people leaving care and who are transitioning to independent living.
“Many have little or no family support. It comes as no surprise that young people leaving foster care are less likely to finish school or pursue higher education. Some end up homeless or become involved in crime. Others face financial difficulties and struggle into adult life. Few have extended family or community networks to fall back upon.
“We turn soil not only because we are about to embark on a new project but because we know tilled soil is rich in potential. It has the ability to grow and nourish new life. It is a symbol of what is to come.”
Young people in the program will be committed to a journey of personal development and achievement. They will receive 24-hour support and ongoing case management as they study or seek work, and learn life skills like cooking and budgeting. Thanks to the Property Industry Foundation’s PIF House Program and support from Lendlease the new centre will become a warm and welcoming home. Builders, tradespeople and other industry supporters are donating their time and resources to the project during the renovation period.
Property Industry Foundation CEO Rosemary Smithson said the aim of the project was to make a positive, life-changing impact on at-risk young people.
“The creation of this caring home, and the mentoring that will be provided, will really help rebuild young lives,” she said.
Alison Mirams, General Manager NSW/ACT, Building, Lendlease, underlined her company’s significant contribution to the project.
“Lendlease Building is proud to work with Wesley Mission on an initiative that supports young people. As Principal Contractor for the PIF House Dundas project, we are providing pro bono design, project management and construction services to deliver this important facility,”
The refurbishment is expected to be completed next year.