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No child should have to live in a tin shed this Christmas

13 November 2017 Wesley Mission news

Christmas is a time to be grateful for everything we have, but also a time to share what you can with those that need it most. Family is so important at this time of year, and it’s heartbreaking to think that there are so many children and families who are homeless this Christmas.

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Erica* was in a violent, abusive marriage and faced an unimaginable dilemma. Stay with her abusive husband or take her children and run-with nowhere to go?

Erica was determined to protect her children, and so she moved her family far away to a new city to build a life where her kids would be safe.

For a few months, Erica was able to keep a roof over her children’s heads by renting a house that she knew she couldn’t afford. Because the alternative was living on the streets.

With all her money being spent on the rent, Erica didn’t have enough money for food. “I used to go to the butcher’s and buy chicken wings. They were cheap and I would cook some of those with a big pot of rice to try and fill the kids’ stomachs,” she said. “It was the only meal they would have all day and it wasn’t enough.”

No child should go without the basics like food or somewhere safe to stay. A single meal a day wasn’t enough and the kids were getting sick. The family’s situation became even worse when Erica fell behind on the rent and was facing eviction.

Erica’s eldest daughter Olivia was aware of how dire the situation was and did something no child should have to do. She asked her school friends if they had somewhere for her family to stay–even a shed or a garage would do.

Olivia’s best friend told her mother and they compassionately let Erica and her three children share their food and let them sleep in their garden shed.

No family should have to sleep in a cold, dirty shed but the alternative was living on the streets and Erica was grateful for this offer given out of compassion.

When a Wesley Mission caseworker was alerted to this situation, we knew something had to be done immediately. The team at Wesley Accommodation Support for Families were able to move Erica’s family out of the tin shed and into a crisis accommodation unit straight away.

Wesley Accommodation Support for Families is more than just a bed and a safe place to stay. We could also help Erica access medical care, help get the kids back on track with their schoolwork and help Erica access playgroups and parenting groups to support her in strengthening the family’s relationships and become part of a community again.

Erica’s own words tell you how much your support of Wesley Mission means to her.

“I can finally sleep. Not worrying about what will happen or what we will eat the next day or what I must do to keep us going. I’m so much more calm and relaxed.”

*Names and photos have been changed to protect privacy.