As the end of the year approaches, I make time to reflect. What were the highlights of the year past? Lessons learned? What am I grateful for?
2022 has brought its fair share of challenges. In quick succession our communities have faced new COVID waves, catastrophic floods, an escalating housing crisis and surging cost of living pressures – straining resilience to breaking point.
At Wesley Mission, we have the privilege to walk alongside people and communities in crisis. We know that people who are already vulnerable are hit hardest and have fewer resources to respond.
The reality is, for many Australians, Christmas this year won’t be filled with presents, but with the pain of having to rein in spending, and for too many, with the very real possibility of the looming loss of a safe place to call home.
Did you know that housing is enshrined as a universal right internationally, but that Australia’s domestic laws do not currently recognise the right to housing? While Australia is a signatory to a number of international treaties that uphold the right to adequate housing, we are well behind other developed countries in addressing homelessness and dismantling the structural inequities that have helped create our current housing crisis.
And, while there is a lot that needs to happen for real change, at Wesley Mission, we also get to see the positive impact that access to housing and support is already having. Here are just a few stories of people who now have a home this Christmas –
“One of the difficult things about being homeless is being judged,” Martin says. “They just see you as someone living in a van and not being worth very much.”
Martin, who’s 65, has always earned a decent wage. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the restaurant where Martin was working, closed. Struggling to afford rent, Martin left his home of seven years to live in his van.
But through Wesley Mission’s support, Martin has rebuilt his home and found confidence to chase after a brighter future. “I’ve still got dreams. I’ve still got stuff I can give back.”
“They’ve given me a forever family and also a forever friend,” says Tamara.
From foster care placements to finding Tamara a home when she turned 18, Wesley Mission has journeyed with Tamara since she was just six months old.
And when Tamara found herself without a home for the second time, she felt confident to reach out to Rosie from Wesley Take Charge of Your Life, because of their strong bond developed over many years. Tamara now has a place to call home that’s close to her foster family, and for the first time, her own Christmas tree!
I gave you a sneak peek at Gordon’s journey last week, but I thought you’d like to see more.
“I was sleeping on a concrete verandah at a stage where my life was so low,” says Gordon. “I was sort of stranded, left out of the world, forgotten. But Wesley [Mission] helped me.”
Four years ago, Gordon stepped out of homelessness, thanks to Wesley Mission’s support. Now living at Wesley Community Housing’s property in Hamilton South, Gordon says he’s now surrounded by a supportive community, made up of his neighbours he now calls his friends, and his Wesley Mission family.
It is such a privilege to journey alongside people like Martin, Tamara and Gordon, and to see them establish a secure home and rediscover the dreams they have for their life in the process.
I hope you might tune in with your family to watch Home for Christmas, 10am Christmas Day on the Nine Network – Channel 9, WIN and NBN.
And if you’re in Sydney, we have a place for you. You’re invited to join in our 10am church service in the Wesley Centre 220 Pitt Street, Sydney. There are still a few places available at Christmas Lunch too. You can book online or, or if times are tough, hit reply to this email and I’ll get you a ticket to come along as my special guest, free of charge.
That very first Christmas, Jesus was born and laid, not in a pristine crib in a sterilised hospital ward, but in the rough and tumble of a smelly animal feeding trough.
Here’s the thing. The good news, the great news of Christmas is that the one for whom no room was found, always finds room for us in his love, should we accept his invitation.
My friends, the Christmas story tells us that God, who is love, always has room for us. The only question that remains is – will we make room for him? I hope you can!
Every blessing to you, and I look forward to connecting again in the new year –
Rev Stu Cameron
CEO and Superintendent, Wesley Mission