Sophie’s family spent last Christmas sleeping in a park
With limited job options in their rural town, Craig, Laura and their nine-year old daughter Sophie moved to western Sydney.
Craig was offered full-time work in a factory, and relatives invited them to stay until they found a place to rent. Craig worked long hours while Laura applied for jobs and houses and cared for Sophie, who had started at a new school.
Sadly, Laura’s searching went on for months – such is the competitiveness for affordable homes and flexible work for mothers. Then things started falling apart.
Craig’s work was cut to part-time, giving the family little money to live off. This financial strain created tension with their relatives as they could no longer help with groceries, rent and bills. Before long, they were asked to leave. They spent weeks moving between friends’ homes, but ran out of options in the days leading up to Christmas.
With nowhere left to go, Craig and Laura decided they would be safest in the CBD, where there were services to help people in need. But failing to find a shelter that would let them all stay together, and having no money for a room and no car to sleep in, they succumbed to setting up a tent in a city park.
“I’ll never forget the empty look in Sophie’s eyes when she woke up on Christmas Day inside that tent. We couldn’t afford to give her a proper present. I felt like a total failure.” – Craig
Fortunately, thanks to Mission Australia’s Missionbeat mobile outreach service, they didn’t spend many more nights in the park. After Missionbeat driver Darlene discovered them, she quickly found crisis accommodation for the family. Over the following days she continued to do everything she could to help. Thankfully, temporary housing was found where they could stay until a longer-term alternative became available.
Knowing that stable housing is only part of the solution, Darlene engaged a range of services to help the family regain their independence. Craig did a security training course to qualify him for extra work, Laura received help refining her resume and practising interview techniques, and both parents completed tenancy, cooking and finance classes to strengthen their housing applications.
“It’s such a relief to know that my little girl is going to wake up with a roof over her head this Christmas. I promised Sophie she’d never miss out on a present from Santa again.” – Craig
Supported by a strong network of care, the family continues to take crucial steps each day towards becoming self-sufficient and independent. They’re so thankful to have a roof over their heads, and to know that they’ll be safe this Christmas.
Please pray for the safety and wellbeing of families on the brink of homelessness who face an uncertain Christmas this year.
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