Philip didn’t like school. He didn’t like home. No wonder really, as his family was dysfunctional in just about every way. Philip was 11 years old when Social Services put him and another of his brothers into the care of the Institution for Children and Youth in Knjaževac, Serbia. During his four years there, Philip’s father died, and his brother got a criminal conviction and was sent to the Juvenile Detention Centre. The family home was still considered inappropriate for Philip, and so he was transferred to Niš. He spent a further three years there in the system, taking him to his 18th birthday.
Whereas many young state care leavers end up homeless or getting caught up in criminal activity, Philip was able to come straight into the House of Opportunity in Niš during the summer of 2019. This has given him the chance to avoid the path that his brother took.
Philip has plans. He is training to become a hairdresser and working towards saving the money to start his own studio. He doesn’t remember much about his old family life, such as it was, but he is part of a new family at the House of Opportunity, where he is learning the skills he needs, and finding that he is loved by the team and his housemates. “After spending almost 10 years in institutions for young people, many with behavioural problems, we are providing Philip a safe place to stay, a healthy environment and family support, love and acceptance”, says Tanya, of House of Opportunity Niš. “After leaving our program, we strongly believe Philip will be a good young man, father and successful hairdresser, and his past in those Institutions will be behind him”.