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Coreen’s story of homelessness to hope

After escaping domestic violence and with nowhere to go, Coreen* became homeless at 67. Today, she’s found a safe place to call home and is filled with hope for the future.

Coreen*, a mother of three, spent her whole life caring for her family. She never thought domestic violence would be a part of her life.

When Coreen left the NSW North Coast she moved into a busy, multi-generational house in Sydney. Here, she was made to feel like a burden and experienced abuse by her relatives. Her living situation had increasingly become difficult, creating a lot of tension between her and her family. After an argument with one of her daughters, Coreen was asked to leave the house and was suddenly forced into homelessness at 67.

Without access to housing and family support, Coreen felt her future was bleak.

“My mind was all over the place,” Coreen says. “I didn’t know where I was going to end up.”

But that all changed when she met Toni, her Wesley Mission case worker.

Seeking safety

When Coreen connected with an aged care provider, she was referred to Wesley Mission’s Assistance with Care and Housing, a program that advocates for older people at risk of becoming homeless – some of whom are our most vulnerable, isolated and at-risk members of the community. The program helps with immediate needs such as arranging medical appointments, referring financial counsellors and care providers, and helping find safe and stable housing.

“I was really nervous at first but when I met Toni, she made me feel comfortable and relaxed,” Coreen reflects back to their initial meeting.

Toni continues, “Coreen was sleeping on a couch in a storage room at the time I met her. She told me she was worried she would end up sleeping in a park.

“But I assured her that wouldn’t happen to her and so I stayed with her until we found her a place.”

With Coreen’s safety in mind, Toni immediately helped her apply for emergency accommodation.

“My car was loaded with Coreen’s belongings which was just one suitcase and a washing basket with a few clothes,” Toni adds. “She [Coreen] remained positive as she settled in at the emergency shelter and was grateful to have somewhere to stay.”

While Coreen was at the shelter, Toni would visit her to keep her company, bringing along warm meals and fresh fruits.

“Coreen’s a lovely lady who just wanted the best for her family but had unfortunately found herself in a such a difficult situation and didn’t know where to find help.”

A place to call home

Coreen had some health issues including limited mobility due to her arthritis. So Toni continued to look for a stable and permanent home that would cater to her needs.

After looking at different housing options, they finally found a unit in the Blue Mountains that was suited for people over 55.

“During our drive to check out the unit, Coreen just sat in the car and said, ‘You know what? This is the first time I’ve felt relaxed for a long time.’ She then spoke about her connection with nature and how she already adored the natural beauty of the place,” says Toni.

To make the move easier for Coreen, Wesley Mission helped her to settle into her new home and organised new furniture and provided her with household essentials.

“When I got the unit, I had nothing but a couple of bags with clothes,” Coreen shares.

“Wesley Mission was able to supply me with a bed, a fridge and other things I needed for the home. They were so good to me.”

Toni was overjoyed when she saw Coreen’s reaction to her new home.

“The day the furniture arrived, she was overwhelmed and was so happy. She couldn’t believe she had all these lovely things.”

Toni did more than simply help Coreen find a place to live. She made sure Coreen was comfortable and had everything she needed. She also connected Coreen with a medical doctor and other community services, and a church that was just a short walk away from her unit.

Coreen’s home has now become a haven of hope for her. She’s learned to embrace the chance to rebuild her life. Since moving into the unit, she’s made a new circle of friends and built connections with her neighbours in her building.

“The people here are absolutely wonderful. Everybody looks out for each other here.”

Coreen has also started to rekindle her relationship with her daughter and spend more time with her grandchildren.

“My daughter and I talk now. She visits me from time to time and brings my little great-grandchildren to come see me.

“I absolutely love where I am. Toni couldn’t have put me in a nicer place. I thank God for Toni. I really can’t thank her enough.”

For Toni, she counts it as a privilege to help people like Coreen.

“It’s so lovely to see how things have unfolded for Coreen after she made the commitment to moving on with her life.

“It’s an honour that my clients allow me to come into their lives. And it just feels so satisfying when I see their resilience and when I see them succeed.”

Coreen feels like she’s finally getting back on her feet.

Despite all that she’s been through, she feels at peace and is filled with hope for the future.

For anyone who’s been in a similar situation to hers, she says, “Try reaching out. It doesn’t matter how bad things are, the people at Wesley Mission are so caring and they will look out for you.”

Help is available for people experiencing domestic and family violence. If you are experiencing abuse or violence, there are support services that can help you. If your life is in danger, call 000. For other concerns, 1800 RESPECT or NSW Domestic Violence Line – 1800 65 64 63.

*Name and image have been changed to protect privacy.

For more information about Assistance with Care and Housing (ACH) please visit Assistance with Care and Housing.

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