Daisy* arrived at the Homeless Women’s Trust two weeks after it opened. She talks about what led her to be without a home and how she found a new lease of life, with the help and support of the Trust and House Manager.
My ex-partner, who was very violent, had put out the word that he wanted to know where I was, so I was very afraid. There isn’t much the law can do if someone really wants to harm you and I had already experienced some awful things at his hand. I spent two weeks hiding in my room and then I just decided that I couldn’t live that way any longer. So I just got on a plane and came to Wellington.
I had nothing but a suitcase with a few things in it. I really didn’t know what I was going to do - but doing something seemed better than doing nothing. I knew someone in Wellington who had arrived a couple of weeks before me and she told me about the homeless shelter at the Downtown City Mission. By some amazing chance the Homeless Women’s Trust had just opened its doors and I was referred to them.
When I look back, I think that whatever happened to me then, at that low point, was going to determine how I lived the rest of my life. If I hadn’t been shown kindness then, if I hadn’t been given a break, well, I really hate to think of what would have happened to me.
I think the Homeless Trust really saved my life.
Not that it’s been easy. I was heartbroken – in order to flee for my life I had had to leave everything – my flat, my friends, all my things – I had given up the lot. Also, living in fear all the time, not taking care of myself properly and not dealing with all the issues I had, meant that when I arrived at the Homeless Women’s Trust I was a mess.
The first few days I could barely function. When you have absolutely nothing – nowhere to live, no job, no money, no family to call on – it’s really hard to see any meaning in life – you just think, why bother? I had lost all confidence in my ability to make decisions - even small ones. I felt paralysed. But that’s where the House Manager was a life-saver. She left me to recover for a few days, but then she got me up and got me to make some plans.
At first those plans were very basic – get up, have a shower, make a cup of tea – just step by step, slowly coming back to the world. Then, we started to make bigger plans – getting me clothes to wear, making a doctor’s appointment, going to WINZ and getting my benefit organized – each day I would do a bit more.
And I realised that for the first time in a long time, I had the chance to sort myself out. Being in such a lovely place – all cosy and safe, really helps to make you feel motivated too. I think that is a very important thing about the Homeless Trust – it’s warm and modern – it’s very nice place to wake up to and sets a standard that you start wanting to live to.
With the House Manager’s help I got in contact with Mental Health Services and started getting some proper counselling for the emotional harm and stress from the years of violence and abuse. We also went to Victim Support and it turned out I was entitled to some financial help from them, which I never knew about.
I could never have done all of this by myself. And I certainly would not have been so successful at getting a Housing Corp house, which the House Manager helped me to get within three months of setting foot in Wellington.
It’s been a few months since I left the Trust accommodation. I still have contact with some of the other women I met there and the House Manager keeps in touch – makes sure I’m okay. She is one lovely lady – she really cares and she makes sure you know it.
I’m doing well in my council house and I am getting my life back. I am taking things day by day but I keep achieving the goals I set for myself. Thanks to the Trust, I feel like I am the luckiest girl alive.
* Name has been changed.