Homelessness Week 2016 takes place throughout the week of August 1-7. Homelessness Counts is the theme for 2016, encouraging all to recognise that those experiencing homelessness are a valuable part of our society and must be supported!
Across the Diocese many churches and Samaritans are endlessly working to support the homeless communities of Newcastle, the Hunter, Lake Macquarie, Central Coast and the Manning Valley.
The Encounter takes a look at some of the churches in our Diocese who are doing fundamental work in supporting those less fortunate.
We also take a look at the work of Christ Church St Laurence, a church based in Sydney, which provides a shelter for the homeless.
How can you support the homeless this winter?
On any given night in Australia 1 in 200 people is homeless
When Hayley* was facing homelessness she turned to Samaritans for help. Here is her story:
About half way through 2015 I contacted Samaritans because I had left my ex-partner who I had been with for five years and had spent months just staying with friends which was really messy. I needed to find my own place.
I felt pretty bad asking my friends for help and then that put pressure on those relationships and things got pear-shaped so I turned to Samaritans.
At the first appointment with Samaritans I spoke to the case worker and she asked what I wanted to achieve. I said, “Ultimately I want to just lead a normal life and to do that I need to get off Centrelink and find a place to live.”
Together we set up a plan to get access to some transitional housing so I got a place to stay in Cessnock with Samaritans. I spent six months with Samaritans and there were two other young people living in the supported accommodation as well. I’m 23 and I was the oldest there but we all got on really well.
Then just before Christmas I got my new house in East Maitland. I was so relieved to have my own place because my time at Cessnock was nearly up. It was really stressful. It was important to me to find a place on my own as I had shared accommodation and when I’m on my own I get on with my own goals and I don’t have to worry about others. I need my own headspace after dealing with things I had to in the past.
I’ve got a 12 month lease and I really want to stay here. I don’t want to move around anymore, I’m enjoying my own place because I can call it my own.
But it’s still really hard to get by each week. I only have $170 a week to live off. That has to cover my food, electricity, any transport or communications and I still try to put money aside for my son but it means I go without.
My goal for the future is to get a job and to get off Centrelink so I can live a normal life.
I’m doing an aged care and disability support work course at WEA. I’d love to get a job in that area. I have a family member who has Down Syndrome so I have a passion for that work. Who knows, maybe I can work for Samaritans one day!
I’ve pulled myself out of a lot of problems and issues in the past and I’ve come from so much and I still don’t have much but I just want to get on with life. I really want to leave a legacy behind for my son. I haven’t been left with much and I want to change that for him.
If I had to say something to Samaritans I would thank them for giving me a chance. I felt welcomed and safe.
*Name has been changed