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A life back on track

21 April 2017

Belinda* and her family had recently relocated to Geraldton, Western Australia, when her partner and the father of her children ended their relationship.

“I went from being in a financially secure relationship to homeless with no support,” says Belinda. “He kicked me out with nothing.”

Belinda and her kids finally found government housing, but she describes the community as “horrific”. After being assaulted, she knew she had to find a safer home for her family. Belinda secured a private rental, but the trauma of the family breakdown forced her to relocate again to be closer to family and friends.

“Something I’ve learned is that you can lose everything – your house, your job, your relationships, your friends – but if you have a great family, you’ve always got a solid base,” says Belinda. However, despite having the support of her family, Belinda and her kids were still destitute.

“We were staying nowhere permanent,” she says, describing the months of homelessness she experienced. “My kids had to share a bed at friends’ houses. We were sleeping on lounges, anywhere there was room.”

Receiving minimal child support, Belinda struggled to make ends meet.

“There’s a difference between surviving and living,” she says. “And we weren’t doing either. We could barely afford to eat.”

Belinda remembers feeling completely hopeless.

“You go from cooking wholesome meals with fresh produce to serving canned goods and freezer food,” she says.

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“I couldn’t afford to pay my children’s school fees. I couldn’t afford to send them on excursions. They couldn’t visit their friends because I didn’t have any money for activities. I could barely get them to school because towards the end of the pay cycle I’d have no money for petrol. Some days they couldn’t go.”

Belinda had reached her lowest point.

“Looking back on it now, I can see how unhealthy I was,” she says. “I really didn’t look good. I was so stressed and it really showed. It wasn’t until I connected with the Salvos that I started piecing my life back together.”

After contacting The Salvation Army for emergency food assistance, Belinda met Doorways caseworker, Glenda de Guzman.

With Glenda’s support, Belinda secured government housing, close to her children’s school. She was connected with a bulk-bill psychologist for emotional support and referred to The Salvation Army’s free dental program.

“The Salvos helped me put my life back on track,” she says.

Belinda now volunteers for The Salvation Army’s Doorways program. She is studying a Certificate IV in Community Services so she can give hope to others.

*Name changed for privacy

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