On a mission this Christmas

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This year has been a watershed period for organisations offering services to people who are experiencing disadvantage and homelessness. Some agencies have lost considerable amounts of government funding, prompting them to consider merging with others or even closure.


Fortunately Sacred Heart Mission has always worked to ensure that we are not entirely reliant on government funding. Some of our key services receive little or no government funding. But this means we need help to keep those vital services operating in a time when other doors are closing for people in need. In fact, more than ever before, support from our community is critical.


Sharon’s story illustrates how the Mission assists people to take control of their lives and achieve their goals. Sharon, 29, was a business manager living the urban lifestyle of a young professional in an inner city apartment before an unforeseen mental health problem slowly began to unravel the life she had built for herself.


The initial signs were almost imperceptible. Sharon started withdrawing from friends, stopped returning phone calls and gradually became unable to get herself to work.


She didn’t know it at the time, but she was experiencing psychosis; becoming confused and thinking that government spies were watching her. In a few short months, as her confusion grew, Sharon found she was unable to manage her own finances and ended up losing her apartment. Within weeks Sharon was sleeping rough in a park and sourcing food from rubbish bins.


A park ranger found Sharon asleep behind a scoreboard early one morning. He told Sharon about Sacred Heart Mission’s meals program, and even dropped her at our door in time for breakfast. Sharon ate a nutritious meal for the first time in weeks. She took a shower and was provided with fresh clothes.


From that point, Sharon’s life began to turn around.


Sharon continued to sleep rough, whilst still coming to our dining hall for her meals. But after being assaulted in the park late one evening, she arrived at the Mission for breakfast in a state of distress.


Support staff were able to establish a good rapport with Sharon, and because of this, she was prepared to accept the offer of medical support from the GP service situated in our Grey Street facilities, right next to the dining hall.


It wasn’t long before Sharon got her own room in a local rooming house, with the help of support staff. Now, no longer sleeping rough, Sharon felt somewhat safer, but was still at times delusional and disorientated.


The GP diagnosed Sharon with bi-polar disorder and with the help of emergency relief funding her pharmaceutical costs were covered to treat the psychosis and depression.


Over time she expressed a desire to make contact with her family who lived interstate. Imagine her family’s relief when Sharon made contact. They had been deeply concerned, having not heard from her for several months. Soon after, Sharon was assisted to move back in with her parents.


That was more than 18 months ago. Sharon has received ongoing treatment and now, in recovery, is back at work managing a successful graphic design business. She has renewed contact with her friends and she is very grateful for the support the Mission gave her during her period of mental illness and homelessness. So much so that she recently donated a large sum to help us continue our work.


“My illness came out of the blue! I had no idea what was happening to me, and my life was just chaos,” Sharon said.


“I never imagined that I would have to rely on the services of a place like Sacred Heart Mission. But what really stood out for me was the unconditional welcome given to me by Mission staff. I was able to put my trust in them and get the support I needed to get my life back on track”.


Sharon dropped into the Mission during Mental Health Week in October this year to say hello to support staff, and express her gratitude for their help during a time of deep confusion, fear and anxiety.


We are aiming to raise $250,000 through our ‘DoNation’ appeal this Christmas so we can make a real difference in the lives of people like Sharon. This will pay for 62,500 meals served from our dining hall which is where it all starts – a simple meal is the first step in improving people’s lives. Everyone is welcome at our table.

Please go to www.sacredheartmission.org to donate or phone 1800 443 278. A gift of $30 will pay for a person’s lunch for one week.

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