Toula Stavropoulos considers herself a passenger on the ride of life with her clients. Each young person drives their story but Toula is a constant beside them, providing the supports they need to move forward. Staying positive is vital, a skill Toula learnt early in life when faced with her own adversity.

Currently, I have 23 clients. That’s 23 different stories.

It definitely has its moments and can be quite intense, but my work is also incredibly rewarding. That’s what keeps us in the job, because we are here to help, and the young people really appreciate that and identify with our support.

You can have four seasons in a day. It can be quite heavy and I might feel a bit helpless depending where the young person is at and what has happened for them.

I always try to remain positive and optimistic and provide that glimmer of hope because I like to believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

It’s important our clients hang on to that positivity because they can have serious things going on.

Our emotions can range from feeling sad and resonating with the client to reassuring them nothing bad lasts forever. He or she might be here right now, but in a few weeks that can all change.

I’ve been at Centacare for six years.

Prior to that I was working alongside Guardianship children and young people in residential care facilities.

My inspiration I think comes from having adversity of my own. Growing up and losing a father young, and dealing with quite a few challenges …

I always had great support around me – family and friends – and things did get better. I like to share the hope.

I’ve been told I’m a sharp listener so I guess innately I like to help.

I do believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel and life has its moments for all of us. We do go through struggles and hurdles but it’s our mindset that will help us get through those times.

Sometimes young people can’t see the hope. But if there’s someone there that can show you and tell you that, I think it can make a huge difference in those dark moments.

It’s important people are more open minded about homelessness.

Everyone’s situation is unique. Yes, we might have those cases where people don’t want to live at home and abide by rules but that unfortunately isn’t so most of the time.

These young people are dealing with significant trauma and their foundation isn’t there, and they are needing that service support to help get back on their two feet.

My message on Youth Homelessness Matters Day is don’t be so quick to judge.

These young people are stripped of their innocence way before us. They might only be 18 to 25 but this stuff has been occurring since they were little.

Some people in their forties and fifties have never seen some of the stuff our young people have had to go through and view through their eyes.

Compassion goes a long way.