After spending much of her youth in homeless shelters and couch surfing with friends, Sarah’s only goal in life was not to put her 6-year-old son through the same hardship she experienced growing up. 

When Samuel was born Sarah vowed he would never have to go through the same situations. But when her rent increased by $40 a fortnight, they faced the very real possibility of becoming homeless.

Sarah’s Centrelink payments were only just covering the rent, but with a power bill overdue and the need to keep them both from going hungry she soon faced an impossible choice: Does she feed her son, keep the lights on, or pay  her rent?

After deciding to put food on the table and pay their electricity bill, Sarah quickly fell two weeks behind in rent.

Unemployed, Sarah applied for jobs every day but when she explained she could only work school hours because of Samuel during interviews, no employer offered her a job. She searched for a cheaper apartment, but was unable to find anything suitable. She even considered moving somewhere where rent was cheaper, but that would make it harder to find a job. 

After missing an appointment she received a letter from Centrelink warning her that her support was about to be cut off. Sarah felt both lost and cornered.

“I just felt like everything was going wrong and piling on top of me. I was worried about where Samuel and I might end up,” Sarah says.

That’s when Sarah called Vinnies Helpline.

A local team of volunteers from Vinnies, known as Vincentians, connected with Sarah. They paid her overdue rent and connected her with the Queensland Department of Housing to access rent subsidies so she and Samuel could remain in their home.

They also helped Sarah engage with Centrelink, enabling her to continue receiving assistance and advocated on her behalf with her energy provider to reduce her utilities costs.

In addition, the volunteers gave Sarah and Samuel food vouchers and warm clothes. They even helped to update her resume and practiced job interview scenarios.

Because of generous donations and the care and support provided by Vinnies volunteers, Sarah and her son were given a hand up when they needed it most.

“Thank God I made that call to Vinnies, I’ve now got a part time job and Samuel and I are secure and he is doing really well at school.”

How we helped Sarah

  • Paid overdue rent and assisted with rental subsidies
  • Engaged with Centrelink to ensure continued support payments
  • Advocated with energy provider to secure utility discounts 
  • Provided food and warm clothes
  • Referred to ‘job ready’ programs.

For a full copy of Making a Difference - Spring 2018 please click here

To donate to the Vinnies Spring Appeal 2018 please click here