Mother of six and step-mother of four, Sadie* had not thought of herself as homeless until she realised that dossing at her ex-partner’s home and sleeping on her children’s couches was no longer an option for her. She talks about what led her to be in this situation and how the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust helped her to regain her confidence and get her life back.
The relationship with my children’s father was finished a long time before I actually left him. During those final years, my self-esteem got lower and lower, to the point that I couldn’t seem to do anything for myself.
However, two of my daughters decided to move to the Gold Coast to find work and I went with them, to help look after my grandchildren. We all enjoyed living together and my girls enjoyed their work. But they missed their partners and New Zealand, so we all came back.
When we returned, there wasn’t enough room for me where my girls were staying, so I went back to their sick father’s home and looked after him again. I’d sometimes go and stay with some of my other children for a night or two, but I felt like I was drowning, looking after everyone except myself. I had absolutely no money apart from what my kids gave me. I hardly ever went out and got pretty depressed. I felt like I was nothing.
One day I just couldn’t take it any longer and I broke down in front of my step daughter. When we realised I didn’t have anywhere else to go, she contacted the Wellington Downtown Community Mission, and they referred me to the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust.
I was absolutely terrified. I had no idea what it would be like, who I would be living with and what would be expected of me. But despite my fear, from day one I promised myself I would not waste my time while being with the Trust, and that I would grow.
But the Trust housing was wonderful. I arrived feeling like a nobody, but suddenly I was given time to plan ahead and think about me – and for myself. You can do so much when you have a peace of mind.
To begin with, I went for walks every day and made myself talk to three strangers – just commenting about the weather, asking for directions – that was a big step for me. I didn’t really care if they replied to me. It was more about making myself do it, just so I had contact with people. I knew I had to push myself to become a part of things, to get better.
Even though I had the space to think things through, I was supported at the Trust. There are some very special people who help the Trust by donating things for the women. The toiletries that I received on the first day made me feel so welcome. Another person knitted woollen scarves for us all. My one was so beautiful and warm; it made me feel fabulous. Someone even gave some lippy – something I hadn’t worn for years – and it was a real morale booster. The people supporting the Trust, including those who work there, are so thoughtful. I hope they know how much I appreciated those things.
I loved my time at the Trust accommodation but it was a wonderful day when I got my Housing New Zealand home. I am so grateful for it. I have my grandchildren to stay and I appreciate my family now. Most importantly, they appreciate me, rather than always taking me for granted. I keep in touch with some of the other women who were at the Trust at the same time as I was, and I respect their work and I value their friendship.
I did apply for a job, but the interview process was very stressful and I realised that I wasn’t ready to commit to other people’s KPIs – I still have a few of my own to achieve!
I do have plans for the next year or two, but in the meantime, I am learning to stand up in my own right. I know I could not have gotten so far without the Homeless Women’s Trust. I didn’t want to stay the way I was and they gave me the ‘oomph’ I needed to change and to take steps, out of the depression. I hope that they continue to do the wonderful they work they do, so other women are given the opportunity to have a good future.
* Not Sadie's real name