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Businesses back online auction for Youth Focus

A Maylands ceramic artist is giving back to the charity that helped save her from the depths of anxiety by supporting a new venture that promotes local businesses while raising vital funds for Youth Focus.

Emma Vinkovic said she had been prompted to join the Auction of Promises after receiving life-changing support from Youth Focus to deal with crippling anxiety.

The Auction of Promises is an online auction to raise funds towards free counselling and suicide prevention programs at Youth Focus. It launches today to coincide with International Youth Day.

Emma’s art studio, ClayMake, which she set up three years ago with her mother Andrea, is one of dozens of Perth businesses to offer prizes for the auction.

“I was always a really anxious kid but it didn’t really become a problem in my life until I turned 20. That’s when I realised that the anxiety I was experiencing was not OK. It was at a level where it was really impacting my life,” Emma said.

“I wasn’t able to study. I was so anxious I just couldn’t get things done. It was consuming and a really horrible experience where everything was anxiety-inducing. I got to a point where I started self-harming and that’s when my Mum found Youth Focus on the internet and reached out.”
Emma connected with a counsellor, who helped her learn skills to cope with her anxiety. She also found solace in working creatively with clay and is now helping others through her business.
“Youth Focus has had a long-lasting impact on me,” Emma said.

“I’m not going to pretend that I don’t still have issues with anxiety. Everybody goes through bad days and bad patches, but working with Youth Focus gave me the ability to understand what I was going through, the skills to deal with it and the ability to communicate how I was feeling so I could get the help I needed. “Clay has been a really big part of improving my mental wellbeing,” she said. “It’s a great outlet for me.”

ClayMake offers classes, workshops and space for hire for anyone interested in clay work and ceramics. Its studio is open to anyone from beginners to professionals.

“We have quite a few people who come into the studio taking a mental health day and want to help themselves in that aspect of their lives. It’s really gratifying to be a part of that,” Emma said.

“Because we’re a small business, we can only support a select number of charities each year but when we saw this was for Youth Focus, we didn’t hesitate. Youth Focus does some amazing work. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said the organisation greatly appreciated generous supporters, like Emma, who helped Youth Focus in its fundraising.

“The past 18 months and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that mental health support has never been more important for young people,” Mr Papakotsias said.

“Without the generosity of our donors, supporters and partners we would not be able to support as many young people with mental health challenges as we do to help them to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.”

Funds raised from the Auction of Promises will help Youth Focus continue to provide free professional counselling sessions for young people aged 12 to 25 and suicide prevention education programs in WA schools.

In 2019/2020, Youth Focus supported 6090 young people through its counselling, assessment and headspace services and another 5773 people through school and community education programs at 37 schools.

For a full list of auction items for the Auction of Promises, visit:
Members of the public can place bids on a range of goods and services until August 27, with all proceeds donated to Youth Focus.