Homelessness can happen to anyone. Even the luckiest people can end up on the streets and sleeping rough. Hopefully it’s just short lived. But sadly for many South Australians, this is not their first winter without a home. It’s bloody freezing at the moment and as most of us sit on our couches, with a rug and a hot cuppa, there are people just like you and me, bitterly cold out in the elements, with nothing to keep them warm.
The Hutt Street Centre has a clear mission — to end homelessness for every person who walks through its doors. Every year they serve up to 40,000 breakfasts and lunches and offer social work and support services to nearly 2,000 people.
You can read all about the incredible work that The Hutt Street Centre does and the amazing stories of people who have turned their life around on their website… but nothing compares to a firsthand experience…
This is *Nina’s story.
I was living in the country, using a lot of ice and in a domestic violence relationship. I had no communication with anyone, and he followed me everywhere I went… so I couldn’t get away.
During a trip to the city I managed to get away, but found that I had run somewhere that the environment and the people were dangerous. I had no phone, no identification, all of my money was going to the people I was staying with – and I was still using a lot of drugs.
I went to Housing SA who told me that I needed ID for them to help me, and they mentioned Hutt St could help me with this.
I managed to contact a friend who let me rent his spare room, but I couldn’t have visitors. I slowly got off the drugs and started to get better, but I got bored with no visitors and started going back to the dangerous place with the dangerous people.
I kept going there until I was locked in a room one day… threatened, hurt and humiliated.
Something inside me snapped… I would not go back there again.
I went back to my friend’s house and collected my thoughts. I needed to change my life… but how…
I remembered Housing SA telling me about Hutt St and I thought that would be a good place to start. I have chronic anxiety but gathered up my courage.
I met with a Pathways worker, Barbara. I told her about what had happened to me… and she listened and was sincere and genuine. She helped me to get my birth certificate, then encouraged me to stay for lunch, and then come along to the new book club group which was starting that day.
I stayed for lunch and, despite my anxiety, I got through it. I realised that I had finally found a safe space where I didn’t have to worry about being violated.
I pushed through my anxiety and went along to the book club. It was great. It took my mind away from my problems… it reminded me that I enjoyed reading books. I was laughing and I felt happy. I went along the next fortnight… and the following few. I invited a friend along and we had lunch together. I felt connected to something.
I was able to get my photo ID, using my birth certificate. I then went on to sort out all of my court fines, engage in drug and alcohol counselling, got my learner’s permit, and now have even enrolled in a diploma in Alcohol and Other Drugs.
I haven’t been to book club for a while due to a back injury which makes it painful for me to walk very far. But I will be getting my Ps soon and will be re-engaging with Hutt St – and going to book club.
It doesn’t seem like much… but the friendly faces, the supportive staff and volunteers, the help with that first step getting some proof of my identity, the way I was treated like I mattered, the way I was served in the dining room, the book club… everything that Hutt St did for me that day was so significant.
I walked into Hutt St as a broken person who had no faith in people as it had all been eroded. I walked out of there with the feeling that people cared… I felt like someone had breathed life into my world. I cannot describe how amazing that felt, after the path that had come before.
On that day my life changed. I didn’t go back to the dangerous place with the dangerous people. I saw that I had value, because staff and volunteers at Hutt St had treated me with kindness, dignity and respect.
I have now been drug-free for 15 months and, without the support I had in taking that first step, I wouldn’t be on the journey I am now on.
I still have my up days and my down days… but my worst day now is still so much better than my best day before.
The satisfaction I got from being a part of book club encouraged me to do other activities. I started going to trivia nights at the local hotel, and swimming at the pool, seeing a movie here and there, going to visit my parents up the coast every second weekend. I realised how important it was for me to challenge my anxiety, get out of the house, and be involved in activities.
As this new lifestyle grew, the old lifestyle faded more and more. As my family noticed the change in me, they started to open their hearts and lives to me again. This is a process, and it’s not yet over… there are still more bridges to mend, but I’ve made a really good start. My parents are so happy to have their daughter back… and my sisters will eventually come round.
It’s hard to believe that these kinds of miraculous changes can happen, but with the right support and services – they truly are able to.
I want to share my story to thank all of you. I hope you know how much of an impact you have had on my life.
Because of that, I can finally say I’m doing well.
There are so many different ways you can support The Hutt Street Centre and help them to rebuild the lives of people like Nina.
Jump on their website here, and see what you can do!