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On any given night over 122,494 people experience homelessness in Australia. Sadly, 17,646 are children aged under 12.1
As the rental crisis escalates and the cost of living increases, thousands of families are facing winter without a safe roof over their heads. We can help them with critical services, including our specialist homelessness services, but we need to do it now. And we can’t do it without you.
Late last year, 11-year-old Bella Marsh* watched in tears as her family’s possessions were loaded into the car. Her beloved dog, Peppa, was at her side. The family should’ve been decorating the house for her older sister’s birthday the next day. Instead, they’d been told to leave their home.
They had nowhere to go.
Bella’s family were victims of a rental crisis that has seen a lack of affordable, secure housing and financial difficulties become the primary reasons for people seeking homelessness services.
As Bella watched on, her parents, Jodie and Simon, were distraught. Simon had been unable to work due to epilepsy, so money was tight, but they never dreamt they’d find themselves in this position, one where they were unable to put a roof over their children’s heads. It was only due to the kindness of friends that the family had somewhere to sleep that night, a caravan in their front yard. The Marsh family would stay there for the next six months through extreme heat and flooding. All while, they furiously searched for a permanent place to live.
“The cramped, uncomfortable conditions in the caravan started to really affect our whole family’s mental health,” says Jodie. “The kids couldn’t have friends over to play as they were embarrassed, and our eldest daughter, Mia’s anxiety got so bad she could no longer cope with school.”
After months of searching for hours every day and countless rejected applications, Jodie called Wesley Mission to explain her situation. The decision was a turning point in the family’s journey.
Jodie describes the team at Wesley Mission as “nothing short of a Godsend for our family from that very first phone call.” Working together, the team found the family transitional housing close to the children’s schools, which was a relief to Jodie and Simon as they were determined for young Bella to finish Year Six alongside the friends she’d been with since kindergarten. The family is now settling in well to their new home.
“The kids are absolutely loving it and they’ve each come right out of their shells since we moved in,” says Jodie. “We all have our own space now, even Peppa has a big, fenced yard to chase a ball in with Bella. It makes such a difference.”
While Bella’s family is happy and settled in their new home, our support doesn’t stop there. At Wesley Mission, we take a holistic approach, looking at all aspects of people’s lives to be most effective during a crisis and for the long-term.
For the Marsh family, this meant assessing their needs and staying in regular contact, so we can ensure that each of them has all the financial, medical and psychological support they need as they get back on track.
We’re working hard to help more families like Bella’s leave homelessness behind for good.
But we need your support.
Right now, our Emergency Relief and Financial Counselling teams are working with people who are experiencing financial stress and making impossible choices – whether to keep their insurance or drive on bald tyres, buy medication or pay the utilities, pay the mortgage or feed their kids.
With your support, we can continue to help the most vulnerable in our community with housing and accommodation support, emergency relief and financial counselling.
Can help give children and families in crisis essential groceries this winter.
Can provide a child like Bella with a new quilt and sheet set, giving them a clean and comfy place to rest each night.
Can help provide a shopping voucher to children and families in crisis, so they can buy household essentials and warm clothes this winter.
Can buy a ‘starter kit’ of warm blankets, pillows and cookware for a family breaking free from homelessness this winter.
Can provide qualified financial counselling to help families like Bella’s get back on their feet.
Can help children and families in crisis avoid eviction and stay in their rental home this winter.
Can give a family warm bedding, whitegoods and kitchen goods to set up a new home.
Please give now to the Wesley Mission Winter Appeal and provide practical care, critical services and, most importantly, hope this winter.
1ABS Census Data, 2021