Homeless Trust House Manager: Changing lives
The House Manager has been with the Trust since the accommodation opened more than four months ago. She has a background in youth mental health services and brings to the Trust great social skills and experience in working with vulnerable people.
‘I wanted a job where I was helping people, making a difference – I didn’t want easy and comfortable. I am passionate about this job and the people I work with,’ she says.
The House Manager works five days a week from the office based in the accommodation. She starts at around 10 am and works through till around 6.30 pm, so if needed; she can help the women prepare their evening meals.
Her days are really varied. ‘Usually I spend some of the day supporting the tenants to progress one application or another and to help them work towards meeting their goals. Whether it be with social services, looking for permanent accommodation, health care services or a bridge programme, everything goes much better for people if they have an advocate there to support them. One of the biggest hurdles is the paperwork!’
One of the many skills the House Manager has acquired is navigating the complex systems at Births, Deaths and Marriages and other agencies – essential to making sure that women get an ID they can use now and in the future. ‘You need it to apply for accommodation and other benefits, but if you have left home with nothing and you don’t have a driver’s license or a birth certificate, you are a bit stuck,’ she says.
The Trust receives referrals from nine partner agencies. ‘We have criteria around who we can accept. Our primary goal is to offer somewhere private, safe and supportive to allow women time to get back on their feet,’ the House Manager explains.
There are just far too many homeless women. ‘It scares me to think about what might have happened to our tenants, if they hadn’t come to the Trust; if we weren’t able to help them.’
‘One of the awesome aspects of my work has been to find out how many good people there are in Wellington. It has totally restored my faith in human kind.’
‘For example, there is one lovely lady who makes up little packs for each of the new residents so when they arrive, they have their own toiletries – little things like soap, deodorant, moisturiser. Some of the women have literally nothing when they come to us, so what they are given is so special. Every little bit helps.’
One of the churches gave the Trust some gifts – just little things – so the House Manager could give them to any resident if it was her birthday while she was with them.
‘Shortly after we opened, it happened to be one woman’s birthday,’ the House Manager says. ‘I made a cake and the other residents and I gave her a few of the presents and sang Happy Birthday to her. She was in tears by the end – told us that it was the best birthday she’d ever had. No one had ever tried to make her birthday special before.’
It’s easy to support the Trust. ‘People sometimes ask how they can help us. Well, things like snapper cards or clothing vouchers are wonderful for the women because they have so little. It’s heartbreaking, in a way. It’s our aim to find them permanent accommodation, get them set up with social services and hopefully on their way to a job or at least some volunteer work so they can get a reference.’
‘It’s really a privilege to be a part of something so positive and so practical,’ says the House Manager. She hopes the Trust can continue to keep providing this service for a long time to come, because the women are so grateful for the opportunity to turn their lives around and they make the most of their time while they are there.
‘Everyone deserves the chance to make something of their life.’