Tag Archives: hope

It’s a big thing for me to be able to offer help

By Peter Richards, from the Ravenswood Neighbourhood House.

Peter’s story also appears in “It’s a Starting Point“. Thanks to Peter and Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania for sharing it on the BLB.

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What’s important is being able to help people, the ability to help people. Because now that I’m right I’ve got a lot of life experiences, and now if somebody says they’re a bit down, I don’t have the certificates or anything, but I’ve got the ability to talk to people.

To tell you the truth I didn’t know the Neighbourhood House was here and being a gardener for a long, long time, I had a lot of vegetables left over from my garden. I’ve only got a very small back yard, but it’s always growing. It was the next door neighbour—I was talking about all the spares, mostly tomatoes, pumpkins and such, ’cause I got them into gardening as well, and she told me about the House. She got the number for the House and I rang them up and asked them if they’d like all the spare vegetables. Well they jumped at it. Two ladies came up and they picked them and invited me to come down to the House.

Having had depression pretty bad for quite some time I didn’t want to mingle but after several trips up there to get vegetables, I sort of thought “yeah I’d come down there and then shoot home” sort of thing, safety you know, and it all started from there. I was scared shitless, I was, I was scared shitless. I was worried I’d come in, somebody would say something and I’d jump in the car and leave. That’s how bad it was. When I got paid, I’d just slip down to the shopping centre pay my bills, get food and bang I’d be home. I mean I knew my neighbour, and my neighbour over the back fence, and that’s it. I mean I did my gardening. That’s when I really got stuck into the alcohol badly. But that was the extent of my outings, talking to my neighbours, I was quite comfortable with them although I didn’t explain my situation to them. To actually go out was a big thing, and to come down here and spend a day, wow—unreal. That would be about three years ago, it would have been about February-March that they first came and got the vegetables and I’d come down and go home again and whatever. The two women they said “just come down and meet some people” as I’d already told them what was sort of going on after a while; well, not straight up but I’d told them after a while of visits. They said to just come down and mingle for a while, even if just for half an hour and then go home.

“Just come down every now and then,” that was the start of it.

I was just coming down for half an hour and as soon as I was uncomfortable I’d disappear. And gradually it got longer and longer ’til I was here 2 or 3 hours, ’til it was a couple of days a week and now it’s every day. Now I don’t like being inside, it’s the exact opposite. Gradually I’d get to meet people, find out who they were, what they did. Then I’d started doing little bits and pieces around the house. Like Mr Meet-and-Greet, that’s one of the ones I’ve taken on myself, going down to get Second Bite, bringing down my own vegetables of a Monday. Generally tidy up and put things away and whatever. Then I was invited to join the Board. By this time I’d sort of got myself going reasonable.

Continue reading It’s a big thing for me to be able to offer help

The terrible costs of family violence

Trigger Warning. This blog contains disturbing information about family violence that may be upsetting for readers.

I didn’t believe that there were any beautiful people left in the world, but they are really beautiful people.

Me and my children have had our lives destroyed by drugs and family violence. My son has an ice problem and he has been violent to me – put me in hospital – and threatened his siblings. I have to get security for the whole house, and a dog, to be safe. I’ll be paying those off for 3 years.

I’ve got serious health problems; mental health and physical things too. I lived in the car for ages with my daughter, after my son destroyed the house we were living in. We’ve been in shelters for months, and community housing for a couple of years. But it was out of town and I lost my licence. Now we are in this housing commission place and we can stay here for life. I’d like to win lotto and move to the country and grow my own vegetables though.

I think I’m doing really well on the DSP. I’m broke, all the time, but it’s because I choose to spend my money on my daughter and on security and I feel good about that. I use the City Mission and other places, NILS for getting a fridge and washing machine, that’s how I can do it. I pay for my daughter’s braces, and dancing lessons. I want to give her the best possible chance to stay off drugs.

Once you have mucked up with ice, there is no coming back. Even once you get off it, you are still damaged. My son is a monster. People all have different ways of handling things, but people with drug and alcohol problems need extra special care. They are a danger to society. Sibling violence is worst, because the young ones look up to the older ones and admire them. I think it leaves a bigger scar on them than when a boyfriend hits their Mum.

I want to use natural medicines, but they are too expensive – $200 a month. I don’t know what I will do when my allocated visits to the psychologist run out. I don’t go out of the house, only to get the groceries and to do a bit of volunteer work helping out an old couple at their home.

That work has made me feel like my shell is opening up. I didn’t believe that there were any beautiful people left in the world, but they are really beautiful people. I feel my shell opening up. 

If you are experiencing family violence or abuse please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

“Poverty can be soul destroying”

My story is not a typical story of poverty or unemployment. I am from a university educated, high socio-economic background. I guess if anything, my story shows this can happen to anyone.

In April 2013 I was house sharing with a friend to divide our costs and our house lease was coming to an end. We were both long term unemployed despite university educations and over three decades of experience each. Me in health and law, the other person in accounting. We were both divorced with grown up children.

Prior to this I had private rental in Hobart seeking work in a larger city, while again living (existing) on the Newstart allowance. At that time in my desperation, I spoke with the Salvation Army counsellor in Newtown. She listened which was nice, but my situation was not typical of homelessness, drug use or mental health issues.

Continue reading “Poverty can be soul destroying”