For most of Paul’s life, he was isolated from his peers by his inability to communicate. Diagnosed with Down Syndrome, school was a lonely place. He and his mum, Leanne, had escaped domestic violence in another state and settled in another state in search of a better life. But it was a long process.

Through the ups and downs, school chaplain, Mandy, was there every step of the way. She even took it upon herself to learn sign language so she could communicate with Paul.

“Chaplain Mandy was marvellous with Paul. When he got to school he just wanted to go to chaplain’s room, and I know it’s because he felt that acceptance – he could communicate with her with no judgement. Chaplain Mandy often helped me get Paul out of the car. She would engage him with her big smile and personality, and off they’d toddle together. No one else could do it!”

Leanne said she knew Paul was always in safe, understanding and loving hands when he was with chaplain Mandy.

“Chaplain Mandy took the time to understand what he was trying to say. She knew how important it was to empower him.”

School chaplaincy stands in the gap – a special and unique gap – to help children like Paul, who desperately need a friend in their corner to love them and support them unconditionally.

*Student name has been changed for privacy.