Anglicare News - Home is...
Everyone has a right to be home
When we sit outside the conference room, the first thing I notice is how her eyes are sparkling. This is a woman recovering from years of abuse.
Her childhood was one of neglect and abandonment. Relationships were violent. She has known the insecurity and fear that comes with being homeless, moving across states through hotels and shelters, never settling, never having her own place to live.
She laughs softly and tells me that earlier she'd rung her mental health worker, concerned that a change might need to be made to her medication.
‘I feel like I'm on a high,' she says. The worker had assured her all was well. ‘She told me I'm happy. I am feeling happiness'.
What had brought such joy to this woman?
Ten minutes. Ten minutes in which she had been invited to walk onto the stage in front of more than two hundred people at a symposium and offer her opinion about mental health and homelessness services. She had spoken of her own experiences and, as she talked, a series of beautiful, colourful drawings she'd created were displayed on a wall-sized screen behind her. Empowered, she told the symposium that homelessness was a ‘crime'.
‘Everyone has a right to be home,' she explains. ‘To be home is to be in a castle, the king of the castle, where peace, hope, joy, tranquillity all dwell...
‘People with mental health issues tend to feel they are not listened to properly - maybe not knowing or not being told about all services. It comes down to self esteem and self doubt...but I have learned that I do have things to offer, that I can be independent, that I am strong, that I am able to make decisions on my own'.