Don't Stop Caring
We talk to Rebekah about campaigning for foster kids and making the world a better place.
Why did you decide that you wanted to campaign for young people in State care?
At the time, I was working for Lifewise, a charity that’s working to end homelessness. My job was to get stories about the people we were helping. Something that really used to upset me was talking to homeless teenagers.
At the time, young people were turned out of their foster homes on their 17th birthday. 17! And they weren’t eligible for any support like the benefit until they were 18.
Can you imagine turning 17, and being turned out onto the street with nowhere to go? It just breaks my heart.
And these are guys and girls who have might been bumped from home to home all their lives –who didn’t know how to apply for flats. Some of them were still at school!
I asked my boss if I could start a petition, and that’s where the We Don’t Stop Caring campaign kind of took off.
17 is pretty young to fend for yourself, let alone to be living on the streets! What was the We Don’t Stop Caring Campaign about?
We Don’t Stop Caring was all about how young people in state care are our kids. Young people are in care through absolutely no fault of their own. It really annoys me how people are so quick to judge young people in care – we never hear the stories about how resilient they are, and the amazing things they do.
Their families can’t look after them, so WE should look after them and make sure they’re OK. We Don’t Stop Caring was all about standing up and asking Kiwis to give kids in state care the same thing that every other young person has – a family and a place to call home.
The average Kiwi kid leaves home at 23. So I was asking for something similar – for young people in state care to have that option until they turned 21 if they wanted it.
You got over 15,000 people to sign your petition. What was it like to see so many people get behind your campaign?
Honestly, it was overwhelming seeing all the public support! Our printer broke SO many times before we could hand the petition over to the Minister.
I think that it really captured people’s imagination. They were like “oh my god that could be me, or that could be my kid”. People were so shocked.
What would you say to our Embassadors, young women who want to make the world a better place?
I’d say that the world is ready and waiting for you!
The internet is a huge equaliser – speak up. Use social media, be creative. Get involved and don’t be put off by being the youngest person in the room.
Hold onto hope – there are good people out there, people who will get behind you when you need them. I’ve had so many ideas that were bonkers and failed dismally – you will too! Tell yourself that it happens to everyone, dust yourself off, and try something else.
And remember that we all only have one life! Make yours count.