Homeless Trust House Manager: One Year On
One year after opening its doors, the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust House Manager buzzes with enthusiasm about how much the Trust has achieved for the many women who have sought help and refuge from homelessness. She talks about the year and some of her highlights.
Firstly, I’m most proud that we are always full now – to me that speaks for itself. We have become an established part of the Wellington social sector and we have made a difference to the lives of many women.
We have developed a good team, both within the Trust and with our referrers. We have good relationships with other organisations working with vulnerable people, including agencies that can support our women after they leave us. After the hard work the women have done while they are with us, it’s important that they continue to get the help they need to live independently, especially around their mental health. It’s a good community network and we all respect the people we are supporting.
I’m particularly proud of our new relationship with Arohata Prison, which is now a referrer to the Trust. It’s so good to be able to offer a temporary home to a woman who wants to make a new beginning and to work towards independence with her. I’m very excited about what we can achieve with this new partnership.
There are some individuals who stand out for me when I think over the last 12 months. Some women have made huge efforts to address the issues that have held them back – such as drugs and alcohol dependence, health problems and dealing with things that have happened in the past – and have completely changed their lives during the time they are with us. I’m thinking of one woman in particular who had gang connections, didn’t see her child and had nowhere to live before she came to us. She spent the three months here getting lots of counselling, sorting out her entitlements and health and working out what she wanted for the future. We found her some private accommodation close to her child and two weeks after she left us, she had found herself a job. Since then she has completely stayed away from the gang and is looking after herself well. That’s the kind of outcome that makes me love my job.
For me personally, the year has been a steep learning curve and I’ve enjoyed the challenge. Over the course of the year I decided I needed to do some formal learning and with the help of the Trust and the Altrusa Club, I’m doing a graduate diploma in not-for-profit management. It’s been interesting to learn more about governance, partnership and values and it’s helped me to give more support to the Board. I am also now getting involved in a whole range of other aspects of the running of the Trust, such as fundraising, budgeting and succession planning.
I have had a supervisor, who is a bit like a mentor, supporting me to do my best as a manager. I was a bit resistant to the concept at first, but having that person there to run things by and encouraging me to try different things has been very helpful.
We have got good processes in place and our evaluations show that we are going from strength to strength. We have been successful in finding housing for about 25 women, which has exceeded our expectations.
Even the few women we have had to evict have thanked us and told us we are fair and that we provide a good service. They can see that they personally weren’t able to make the necessary changes, but they want us to keep going so we can provide opportunities for others who can. It’s quite humbling, even though it’s disappointing that they couldn’t make the most of what we have to offer them.
I know that we are doing things right because every day I get up and look forward to the day ahead. It’s a privilege to be working alongside women and helping them to re-establish themselves and to lead independent lives.
As told to Anna Pethig