Lauren* and her young daughter were referred to our Crisis & Homelessness Services after they fled their home to escape family violence.
They had very little money and personal belongings and were urgently in need of safe accommodation. Lauren said it was the worst period of their lives.
“I finally ended up in hospital as a result of the violence and took out an intervention order. But the only relative that could put us up was an alcoholic and it just wasn’t a safe environment for my daughter,” Lauren said.
And even though she felt that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, it was an enormous challenge for Lauren to walk through the front door of Wesley to ask for help. She’d never put her hand up for help before.
“I was worried that they would look down on me and make me feel like the failure I felt I was. But everybody at Wesley was wonderful. Matt greeted me at the reception desk and almost immediately I felt so much better. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
On that first day, after our support workers found out more about Lauren’s situation and got the wheels in motion to start helping her, they asked if she needed any food.
Our Crisis & Homelessness Services in Ringwood and Footscray both have a pantry that is restocked daily from food collected during the Food for Families appeal. We hand out up to 450 bags of food to individuals and families in need every week.
“The food was a godsend, especially for my daughter. I wanted her to have three healthy meals a day and I just couldn’t afford the things that most people take for granted.”
“I got to select the food myself and the Wesley staff would go out of their way to make sure that I could have the things that my daughter liked to have in her lunchbox. And if something wasn’t available in the pantry that day they’d go down to storeroom to see if they could find some for me. They were as concerned about my daughter’s health and happiness as I was.”
Her daughter was not only very grateful for the food, but amazed that there was somebody willing to give her mum food for free when she really needed it. They walked out with a couple of bags of food that day and regularly received food while she was in emergency accommodation.
Lauren’s situation has improved and she now lives independently with her daughter.
“Wesley still calls occasionally to check that I’m doing okay, but things are going a lot better for us now. We honestly would not be where we are right now if it wasn’t for the support, encouragement and food provided by Wesley. I loved that they had a holistic approach and I’m just so grateful for them,” Lauren said.
In 2015 the Food for Families appeal collected a huge 49 tonnes of food and household essentials. Donations were immediately distributed to make Christmas a little brighter for families like Lauren’s and, with our pantries well-stocked, will enable us to continue providing food right throughout 2016.
Find out more about the Food for Families journey for 2015.
*Name has been changed.
Image credit: iStock