In the lead up to Christmas, we see people showing love and acceptance. Families open the door to the people they love and it is a beautiful image. But it can be difficult for some families.
Let us tell you about Georgia*, who came to CatholicCare for help just over two years ago. Georgia was in desperate need for someone to open their door to her that Christmas.
Georgia’s early years were difficult. As a teenager, she suffered from anxiety and argued constantly with her father. Her brother experienced mental health issues and both her parents were drinking too much alcohol. Georgia found an escape by turning to drugs and by the time she was 16, she was regularly using crystal methamphetamine (ice).
The next few years of Georgia’s life were punctuated by periods of ice dependency. She became pregnant and stopped using drugs but soon after her daughter, Stella was born, she relapsed into her old habits. When her drug use was reported to Child Protection, Georgia’s parents kicked her out of their home. Stella remained in the care of her grandparents and Georgia moved in with her boyfriend who was also a drug user.
By the time she was 19, Georgia had hit rock bottom. She and her boyfriend were homeless - both of them struggling to battle their addictions. She was estranged from her parents and her beautiful daughter. Georgia’s hope to be reunited with Stella was crushed each time she lapsed into drug use.
It was at this time, that Georgia approached CatholicCare for help.
Our first priority was to find strategies to address her homelessness and stabilise her drug use. This included referrals to specialist agencies who assisted her to find safe accommodation and provided outreach support for her substance abuse.
It became clear that Georgia’s anxiety was a major barrier to her accepting the help she needed and many months were spent gaining her trust.
CatholicCare then worked with Georgia, slowly unravelling her problems and getting to the cause of her addiction.
Over time, Georgia’s inner strength returned and she was able to move forward. As part of her treatment she was helped to reach out to her family once again, and they agreed to work together with CatholicCare in the best interests of reuniting Stella with her mother.
Georgia stopped using drugs in December 2016 and with continued counselling and support, has remained abstinent for the last 12 months, except for one lapse early this year. She continues to work hard to remain clean and is committed to get herself back on track. She has now returned home and is living with her parents and Stella.
This Christmas, Georgia and her family are planning a celebration with all the trimmings. Georgia is in charge of cooking the roast chicken lunch and will have the joy of seeing Stella wake up to her presents under the tree for the first time.
Last financial year, CatholicCare assisted over 18,000 people many with complex problems not unlike Georgia’s. We know that sometimes society gives up on people, and sometimes people give up on themselves, but we never give up on helping our clients.
There are many more families like Georgia’s, who are waiting for someone to open the door to them this Christmas. The need for our programs and services grows each year and with that, the demand on our resources to stretch further. We are motivated by our belief that everyone deserves to live life to the full, along with the generosity of our donors and the good news stories of clients like Georgia.
Will you help us open the door to just one family like Georgia’s this Christmas? All donations large or small are appreciated. With your help we can bring understanding, hope and joy to the table this Christmas season.
Please take the time to make a donation by calling us on 03 9287 5555 or donate online.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients. We thank Georgia for allowing us to share her story with you.