Winter Appeal for homelessness
Rental shortages and the soaring cost of living have forced increasing numbers of Australians into homelessness
We desperately need your help to support families facing homelessness.
Your donation will help families living beneath the poverty line access emergency accommodation, food relief and casework support. This winter your gift will go twice as far, thanks to a small group of Foundation supporters who have kindly offered to match donations.
All donations above $2 are tax-deductible. Donate by 30 June to earn a tax benefit on your next refund.
Jess didn’t have an easy start in life. Growing up in the care system, she says, “is like being on the outside looking in. There are times when you are sick and feeling a bit sorry for yourself and you just wish you had a mum to give you a cuddle.”
After a traumatic childhood bouncing around different foster homes, Jess managed to gain an education and found a job she loved in community services, working with kids with high needs. But then… “I was doing the afternoon drop-offs and this poor girl tripped down the steps of the bus,” Jess describes. “I caught her – as anyone would do – but tore several discs in my back.”
After the accident Jess wasn’t able to return to her job. “It all fell apart from there,” she says. Financial pressures took a toll on her relationship. After a while her partner grew violent and she was forced to leave. Afraid for her life, Jess left with nothing except her car and a few possessions.
She moved back to her hometown in northern NSW, staying on friends’ couches at first but also spending many lonely nights in the park.
“To have nothing and no-one – it’s scary. And it’s so cold. In the mornings the ground doesn’t warm up. You don’t really sleep because it’s so cold."
“And you’re afraid of the police coming in the morning even though you’ve got nowhere to go,” she explains. Jess says having nowhere to wash herself or her clothes was “just horrible.” On top of that there is a deep sense of shame – “shame of people seeing you and knowing. The idea that you don’t belong anywhere.”
Jess contacted the team at Agape Outreach Inc who offered her immediate help and support – meals, a place to shower, a place to wash her clothes. She also found compassion and understanding.
She now knows that homelessness can happen to anyone. “You might think you have got everything together, but I’ve met people who had a lot of money and then got sick and spent their money on medical bills and now they are homeless,” she recalls. “Or they were in a bad relationship and ended up with nothing.”
Jess slowly got her life back on track and eventually she reconnected with a childhood friend, Joe, who had also grown up in foster care. A single dad, he was doing his best to care for his teenage son. Jess and Joe started a new family together and a little over a year ago, their daughter was born.
Ava was born on the night of the floods and in a cruel twist, the family lost a car and other possessions and their home was damaged. Ava was seriously ill and almost didn’t survive.
Again, Agape was there to help. “They gave me a gift pack with everything for the baby and they have given my daughter so much love because she was so sick when she was born,” Jess says. “I’m just so grateful.”
The soaring cost of living has been difficult. “You can’t say to a 13-year-old boy ‘you have to skip a meal’. You just can’t do that. So Joe and I would skip meals to make sure the kids were fed.”
The family received groceries and free hot meals from Agape. The organisation also helped them find more stable housing.
“I want my kids to stay happy as they are now. I want to have a beautiful relationship with my partner,” Jess says. “It might sound boring, but I want to go back to a job that I love and plait my little girl’s hair in the morning before she goes back to school – just little things like that. I want to have a sense of purpose and be a great role model for my daughter.”