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Family experiences Hope House miracle

2 February 2015

Family experiences Hope House miracle

“It felt like we were part of a large family … Hope House has been like a miracle in our lives.” – Tim

For farm worker Tim and his young family, The Salvation Army’s Hope House in Gunnedah (northern NSW) turned a Christmas filled with potential sadness into a season of joy.

When Tim’s wife walked away from their marriage and five children (two with learning difficulties), Tim says he began to seriously struggle financially.

“The biggest problem (with a preschooler, plus four at school),” Tim says, “is that the work I do is mostly outlying farm work. There’s a lot of travel and it’s really hard to find work that I can fit within school times. I have just got to take what I can get and at the moment that’s not much.”

Struggling to making ends meet

Tim, who is now retraining (studying engineering at TAFE), says the increasing cost of everyday living is also making things harder.

“Even the cost of clothing and fitting out my children for school continues to be more expensive, trying to keep up with the school uniforms, school bags, pencils.”

In addition to this, Tim’s mother recently suffered a serious stroke, and he says the fuel costs of driving daily to Tamworth Hospital and back meant little money left for Christmas.

Tim says making contact with The Salvation Army’s Hope House eventually eased some of the burden.

He explains, “The kids were over the moon at attending the Hope House Christmas Day Lunch held at the PCYC. They had so much fun with the story-telling and playing with other children, who were all really excited when they saw all the bags filled with Christmas gifts. It felt like we were part of a large family.

“The eldest three also received gift vouchers, which they spent on items for school.”

Hope House also gave Tim financial help through the NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) program, while his children began attending a kids reading and literacy program at the centre.

Tim, who has gone on to volunteer around the grounds at Hope House says: “Hope House has been like a miracle in our lives.”

Bringing hope to many

Hope House is a haven in a highly disadvantaged neighbourhood of Gunnedah. The centre truly reflects its name.

The services offered include welfare support, general counselling, the Positive Lifestyle Program (PLP) for those referred by solicitors and the courts, PLP for Youth in Gunnedah High School, PLP for Urban Aborigines, court support, opportunities for referred locals to carry out Work Development Orders and youth support in conjunction with Juvenile Justice.

Among the many other services on offer are playgroup, craft group, children’s reading (literacy) group, No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), school breakfasts, drop-in-centre activities, a food drop-off to those in need, Acts of Kindness (AOK) program and a once-a-month barbecue.

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