'Mo' Hughes continues quest to set up facility for 'her kids'

'Mo' Hughes: Still chasing her dream of a permanent home for her 'kids'.
'Mo' Hughes: Still chasing her dream of a permanent home for her 'kids'.

No-one could ever accuse 'Mo' Hughes of being a quitter.

For more than 20 years she has been passionately pursuing a dream to establish a permanent home for her 'kids' - kids, who for one reason or other, just don't fit in.

Kids who can't go home and are living rough on the streets. These are her 'kids'.

Over the years, the mother of five and grandmother of four has probably been 'mum', for varying periods, to more than 400 of them. She put a roof over their heads in various houses in the Byron Shire where she has lived, fed them and tried to help them find their way in life.

And she's still doing it - as best as she can with very limited resources.

At first it was with the group she formed called Kids Off the Street - KOTS - today it's through another group she has formed called Grandma's Place.

Different name, same dream, same goal.

And that goal is a piece of ground just outside one of the shire's towns where a permanent home for her 'kids' can be established, where the kids will be safe and taught a host of skills by volunteer teachers.

She's tried over the years to raise the money herself to buy land, including a 2000 km-plus walk from Brisbane to Victoria, but without success.

She has been promised land in several parts of Australia, including the Byron Shire, but nothing ever eventuated.

Her hope now is that there is a philanthropist out there who will donate some land, preferably with a house and sheds on it, so that Grandma's Place can hit the ground running.

'Mo' said it wasn't the government's responsibility to look after the kids, those who come out of the education system and "don't fit in", it was the community's.

She said she had a vast network of people who were ready to lend a hand once Grandma's Place was up and running, including many other grandmothers.

"There are grandmothers in our community who want to live there and be grandmothers to the children," she said.

"We have people who are going to set up workshops to teach the children creative skills.

"There are a lot of people working on it. I am just one of them."

'Mo' said the need for a permanent home for homeless kids was just as urgent now as it was more than 20 years ago when she started her quest with a bunch of homeless kids in a draughty timber shack at Upper Main Arm.

"It's got to be happening as soon as possible," she said.

"I would not be doing what I'm doing now, living this life for kids if I didn't think it would become a reality.

"This has been 20 years of hard work mate, all the networking and talking."

If you can help 'Mo', call her on 66808943.

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