Ipswich resident Melanie* describes her experience with homelessness like ‘living in nowhere’.
“A domestic violence situation had gotten so bad that it was no longer safe for me at home – but I had nowhere to go,” she said.
For nearly a year, the place Melanie called ‘home’ was the stairwell of a multi-story carpark, where every night she would fall asleep to the sound of late-night revelers at a nearby pub.
“One day I had a home, the next I was suddenly living in nowhere – all I owned was a backpack full of clothes,” she said.
“I knew I had to do something, so I went to Vinnies Queensland for help.
“That was on 15 February 2021 – I’ll remember that date, because it was my last day being homeless.”
Vinnies Queensland Ipswich Accommodation Support Programs Manager Karen Roberts said her team was able to find Melanie supported accommodation at a new Ipswich housing program.
The program provides on-site support from Vinnies for people transitioning from homelessness and crisis accommodation to social housing.
“Since Melanie came here, she’s been absolutely flourishing,” Karen said.
“She’s so proud to have a place to call her own and will even offer to cook and clean for some of the other tenants.”
Melanie said without the support she received from Vinnies, she may still be sleeping in that car park.
“I’m so grateful to be where I am – I feel like a normal life is possible again,” she said.
“When you’ve been dealing with family violence, addiction and homelessness your whole life, a life that feels ‘normal’ is such a blessing.”
While she finally has a place to call home, there are still 21,000+ Queenslanders who, just like Melanie at the start of the year, have no secure or permanent accommodation.
To help support more Queenslanders to break the cycle of homelessness, Vinnies is urging people with the means to donate, even just a small amount, to support their 2021 Winter Appeal.
Vinnies Queensland CEO Kevin Mercer said this was a critical time for many Queenslanders, as the state continues to recover from COVID-19 while dealing with an ongoing affordable housing crisis.
All funds raised from the Appeal will go directly to supporting individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness to find a home and provide ongoing support as well as essentials such as food and clothing.
To donate, visit donate.vinnies.org.au
In the last financial year, Vinnies Queensland’s homelessness services assisted 3,641 in need, including 755 children, and provided more than 95,900 nights of accommodation for people and families in need.
* Name has been changed for privacy.