Eliza Wilson: Streetwork: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Young volunteer helps give girls a chance in life
Devoted. Open-hearted. Energised
At twenty-four years old, Eliza Wilson has already devoted much of her life to helping others.
The former caseworker on Streetwork’s Kickstart program has up to fifteen vulnerable young women or girls under her wing at any time.
Some are as young as eleven, and the oldest are eighteen. Eliza works one-on-one with each to achieve the goals they have chosen for themselves.
These could be to improve their mental health, improve school attendance or performance, overcome substance abuse, reduce their risk of homelessness or increase their engagement in social activities.
Eliza also acts as a support person at school or if one of the young women has to attend court.
She is excited to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It puts the name of Streetwork out there into the community and shows appreciation for the work we do,” she says.
“It also makes these kids proud and takes the shame away from getting help.”
“Our program is completely voluntary, which means the young person chooses to meet with us,” says Eliza, who has a Behavioural Science degree and is studying for a postgraduate diploma in Relationship and Family Therapy.
“I have had a passion to work with at-risk youth since finishing high school. I am extremely passionate about improving the chances that our young people have, and I hope to impact as many young lives as possible.”
When Eliza is not working or studying, she spends much of her time volunteering at charities, including working as a suicide crisis telephone counsellor at Lifeline or helping out at dog shelters.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. The grant will help Streetwork launch its long-planned eight-week PRIDE Empowerment program for at-risk young people. It will fund mentors, fitness instructors and food.
“We can go into schools around the Chatswood area and work with at-risk youth on a weekly activity, whether it be sports or other self-esteem activities,” says Eliza. “The money means we can finally put this program in place.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.