At the age of 15, Ashton and his brother Grant (then six), lost their mother to a violent act that devastated their family and left them without parents. In the years that followed, the Foundation supported them as they dealt with unimaginable grief and trauma. More than a decade later, Ashton says it was the support of the Foundation that helped him recover and create something positive with his life.
Without relatives that could care for them, Ashton and Grant were forced to leave their family home and were placed in foster care. Ashton says that being
uprooted from their home was "probably the most traumatic of all the events in dealing with the initial trauma".
Grant was born with End Stage Kidney Failure, a condition that requires a high level of medical assistance. When they were moved into foster care, Ashton was the only person who was able to complete dialysis for Grant four times a week, forcing him to become Grant's carer in the midst of dealing with grief and loss.
As Ashton and Grant struggled to come to grips with their situation, they were fortunate to receive support from the Alannah & Madeline Foundation's Children Ahead program. Children Ahead provides much-needed practical and financial assistance, but it was the support of their Case Manager, Maree Stanley, that really supported their recovery.
Maree Stanley was part of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation for over 15 years and with children like Ashton and Grant who were recovering from violence and trauma.
Ashton says that Maree was a moral support and shoulder to lean on that made a world of difference in his and Grant's lives in the toughest of times. He notes that "perhaps the single most important thing that the Foundation provided was overcoming the feeling of being alone: alone to deal with the situation at hand and alone to navigate life's journey".
Thanks to the extraordinary work of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, children around the country just like us who have suffered the detrimental blows of a violent and aggressive upbringing have a renewed hope that with support, guidance and a vested interest in their well-being, life is no longer limited or pre-determined by exposure to violence."
Our Children Ahead program helps children, young people and their families recover from the effects of violence and develop resilience through long-term case management support. The program has helped more than 240 children and we hope to help 160 children this year alone.
We work with Melbourne families with children affected by violence or abuse, aged 0-18 years, who reside in City of Port Phillip, City of Bayside, City of Yarra, City of Brimbank or City of Melbourne.
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