When 20-year-old Mary entered the Ladder program, she was withdrawn and was struggling to manage her anxiety. Mary was living with her foster parents at the time, having returned home after finding it difficult to live independently. This experience had turned Mary off the idea of moving out again. With the support of Ladder, Mary identified what had been the barriers during her time living alone. She had found that maintaining a regular job so that she could afford to pay the rent and utilities was one of the main stressors.

The independent living skills sessions, as well as the health and wellbeing sessions were particularly important to Mary who lacked foundational skills and needed to improve her self-care. Ladder also supported her to explore further training and employment opportunities and unearthed a passion for art and design. Over time, her confidence and determination to gain employment and further training grew.

Over time, her confidence and determination to gain employment and further training grew.

Mary was supported to write a tailored resume, gain her First Aid Certificate and completed two courses to gain Statement of Attainments in Illustration and Photography. She completed a 10-week hospitality program, an initiative by Whitelion and social enterprise café, Grounded. She also completed work experience with the GWS GIANTS Football Club where their in-house Graphic Designer identified her potential and ensured she got the most out of the experience. This Graphic Designer is now providing ongoing one-on-one professional mentorship to Mary.

As part of a community project with the GWS GIANTS, Mary was appointed as Lead Illustrator. The project was officially unveiled in front of stakeholders from the AFL industry, government, her peers and her foster family. This was a significant moment for Mary who had overcome crippling anxiety and self-doubt to present her work so publicly.

Mary is currently working two days a week for an interior design company and works two days a week in hospitality. She is looking to return to TAFE to complete a course in graphic design and has recently purchased a ‘tiny house’ where she will live independently.