Patricia* was determined to take a positive approach to life when she came out of prison. Three months’ accommodation with the Wellington Homeless Trust gave her time to put a new future in place and leave the past behind. She tells us her story . . .
There were lots of things that led me to spend time in prison and none of them were good. But while I was there, I made a decision that I was going to turn my attitude around from always fighting against everything to embracing change and opportunities. I was tired of being angry and I realised I had a lot to be grateful for, particularly my two lovely daughters in Wellington and my wee granddaughter.
I wanted a whole fresh new start. I kept saying to myself, “Life can be good, it’s going to be good,” and thanks to the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust, I have had no reason not to believe this.
Having a place to live for three months was fantastic. Like many people in my position, I have post-traumatic stress disorder. But living in a beautiful place, with help on hand, allowed me to gather my thoughts and adjust to community life at my own pace.
The minute I arrived at the accommodation I felt comfortable and safe. The other ladies there were very nice and the House Manager made me feel at ease. And the room set out, with everything I needed, was so welcoming.
It had been a long while since I had time for myself. But I wasn’t alone – help was right there and I just had to ask for it. The staff at the Trust went out of their way again and again to support me. They got me organised with my benefit, set up doctor’s and counselling appointments, helped with my probation – they were my advocates. And they have continued to support me, even though it’s quite a while since I left them.
My time with the Trust really restored my faith in mankind. People were so kind, such as the quilters who provide a quilt for each woman. What a warm and welcoming gift to come home to each day.
Kaibosh is an amazing organisation! A lot of weeks their food kept me going and it really helped me to look on the bright side of things. I am so grateful for that delicious food that they provide.
So many generous people helped to get me settled into my new accommodation when I found the right place. I’d put my name down with Wellington City Council and Housing NZ and been offered a couple of places, but they weren’t right – I didn’t want to be in with the Mongrel Mob nor out in Stokes Valley – but I was thrilled to find my place, especially since I’m in the same building as another of the women I met at the Trust. It’s nice to feel that you’re not completely on your own.
I had nothing when I accepted the house but thanks to the Trust, their contacts and other lovely people I met along the way, by the time I moved in I had all sorts of things: lounge furniture, a bed, a toaster and kettle, clothes – the Trust even found me a sewing machine, so I can keep perfecting the skills I learnt in prison.
In addition, students who were leaving their apartments would offer me goods that they no longer required and were going to put in the skip bin. This is how I managed to partly furnish my flat.
I am very happy in my life now. I recently had a birthday and on that day I thought back to how I spent my last birthday. I have come a very long way from the person I used to be. I can spend time with my daughter and when she goes back to university I’ll be looking after my grandchild. I’d like to get some paid employment in the weekends too, so I can be more independent, but I’ll take that one step at a time.
I feel I have a purpose and I can honestly say, “Life is good for me.”
* Name has been changed.