Hutt St Centre has launched an urgent appeal to provide food, support and joy for those who are doing it tough.
The appeal will help people like April (not her real name), who this year will enjoy Christmas lunch at the Hutt St Centre, the organisation she credits with having “changed my life”.
After enduring a horrific childhood of violence and abuse, which included the death of her elder brother in a motorcycle accident and constant moves due to her parents’ transient lifestyle, April said Christmas had always been an unpleasant time.
“Christmas is not something I look forward to. I don’t remember the last time I thought about Christmas as a happy time,” she said.
“I wish I had happy childhood memories. They would get me through the really hard days.”
After leaving school April found work and started to rebuild her life but tragically her former husband ended his own life and she was left alone again. Years later April was working on a prawn trawler in Western Australia and fell pregnant. Her son was born with Muscular Dystrophy which put added pressure on her. She wasn’t coping and called family services to take him away as she knew she couldn’t give him the care he needed.
In a bid for a fresh start, April arrived in Adelaide with nothing more than a backpack. She had no accommodation, no friends or family to call upon… and began sleeping on the streets.
“Sleeping out means you live in constant fear. You don’t know where to go or what to do. It’s so lonely.
“At night you try to push away the pain of hunger. It becomes something you just live with… a gnawing, stabbing pain.”
April remembers her first few nights in Adelaide clearly. She was facing another Christmas alone – and now she was homeless. Thankfully however, April met someone in the South Parklands who suggested she could go to Hutt St Centre for a meal and hot shower.
“I’ll never forget that conversation because it changed my life. Everything changed from that moment on.
“When I moved back home to Adelaide I never imagined this would be the place I’d finally find happiness and genuine support from people who actually cared about me,” she said.
Since then April has joined the Women’s Wellbeing Group and she continues to visit Hutt St Centre for meals and to seek guidance counselling. She has moved into shared accommodation, and now feels safe and in control of her life.
For more information about the appeal or to make a donation, go to www.huttstcentre.org.au