Aimee Caulfield has made no secret of the battle she faced growing up – domestic violence, bullying, self harm and suicidal tendencies. She overcame her struggles with the help of youth support program Youth Insearch. Now she uses her story to show others there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Leader spoke with her during its campaign to reinstate government funding for Youth Insearch.
As a troubled Tamworth teen, Aimee Caulfield exhausted every counselling option in the city and nothing worked.
When she end up at Pathways for the fifth time in seven years, someone recommended she go through the Youth Insearch program – and it changed her life.
Now, seven years down the track, she’s leading the program that turned her life around.
She said there was a simple secret to Youth Insearch’s success – it’s led by other young people.
“A lot of the young people we have in the program sit in a room with a counsellor who is 20 or 30 years older than them, and they find it hard to communicate with them,” Ms Caulfield said.
“To have a person in the same age group as you, who has been through the program, and is willingly to share their story is really important.”
In 2017, she was named Tamworth Regional Council’s Youth Volunteer of the Year for her work with the charity.
Like many of the Youth Insearch leaders, Ms Caulfield went through the program as a troubled teen – dealing with domestic violence at home, which led to anger, self harm and suicidal tendencies.
Youth Insearch had a profound effect on her, and showed her there was light at the end of the tunnel.
“I was looking at all these leaders who had been through the same sort of things I had been through,” Ms Caulfield said.
“I was finding out how they dealt with it and how they coped with it. I started using those people as role models.”
Before Youth Insearch, she spent about seven years “going through all the different counsellors in Tamworth”.
When she ended up at Pathways for the fifth time, someone recommended she take part in Youth Insearch.
“It was pretty much my last hope or I was going to completely give up, because I was done with counselling,” she said.
“I was sick of being told the same thing a hundred times – I was told what I was doing wrong, but not how to fix it.”
She was “shattered” to learn the program was at risk when it runs out of government funding next year, because there were so many people who need it.
“We are in the process of reaching them, but if the program runs out of funding, those people aren’t going to get that opportunity,” she said.
“It doesn’t just help young people to get themselves sorted, it helps them become outstanding members of the community.”
If you or anyone you know needs help call Lifeline on 13 11 14.