Working to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head is something most couples do, but imagine how much harder it becomes when your partner suddenly develops a debilitating disease. This means they can no longer work and help with the bills, leaving you the sole provider for them and for your children. Now add to that your elderly mother moving into your house, who also needs your care.
This is the reality for Louis, which is why he reached out to Vinnies when he was faced with an electricity bill he simply couldn’t pay. Vinnies recognised the need Louis and his family had and were there to extend a helping hand.
Jacqui is Louis’ Vinnies caseworker, and has been instrumental in helping him cover basic costs to keep his family happy and together.
“I have long periods of being out of work and I never know when the work is coming. Food and rent have got to be handled, that's the basics. The next biggest things are the electricity and water and hopefully it's not going to get any worse, but Jacqui had been a lifesaver with that,” explains Louis.
Jacqui explains: “he knows that when these bills come up, that are out of his control, that Vinnies is there to support him… and so far we haven't let him down.”
On top of keeping things ticking over as best he can for his family, Louis also has his elderly mother living with him. Despite the full house and her care needs, Louis only has positive comments on his family arrangement.
“My mum… she's been with us now for the last 10 years. She's marvellous and loves to be there with the kids. It's great for them to have their Nana there. It's a really full household but they are all happy.”
As housing costs in Sydney continue to skyrocket, Louis is very grateful because his landlord has generously given him a discounted rent in Sydney’s Inner West but he knows it can’t last.
“Whilst I'm in a very good relationship with the owner I couldn't blame him for turning around and saying I've got to sell the place… that would be huge. I've got no reserves of finance at any given stage.”
Louis’ experience is not an isolated case. Unaffordable housing is one of the main contributors to housing stress and subsequent homelessness.
While there is often a focus in the media about housing affordability in terms of soaring housing prices for buyers, the more basic need for renters to be able to keep any roof over their heads can become lost. For so many people like Louis being able to buy a house is not even on the cards: they struggle with basics such as food, electricity and increasing rent prices.
Vinnies is there to help people get back on their feet and to also prevent their situations from spiralling downwards. If Vinnies hadn’t stepped in to help Louis, he would have faced power cuts and no food on the table for his family. From this we frequently see a downward spiral –kids falling behind at school, marriage breakdowns, and people turning to drinking, drugs or gambling as an escape.
Instead, Louis has been able to remain in his home and continue supporting his elderly mother. His family is very close and supportive and his children are all doing well with his eldest daughter voted vice-captain of her school.
“The kids are really happy and doing so well at school, getting tops of their classes and everything else, so I'm a happy man. As far as the help and assistance that we've been given here, it has been really lifesaving.”
Vinnies helps keep families like Louis’ together. But only thanks to your financial support.