Life was fraught for *Lucy, a single mum who had escaped from domestic violence but was having trouble coping with her young daughter and the demands of everyday life.
She was far away from her native land, flat broke and had no job, no permanent home, no family nearby and no friends.
Her daughter seemed to be all she had, but their relationship was tense; there were lots of tears and lots of disagreements. Lucy didn’t know where to turn.
Now she feels she has turned her life around, along with her daughter’s. She is smiling and happy again.
The 38-year-old has somewhere to stay in Western Sydney; she has food and shelter.
She is studying and hopes to work at the end of her three-year course.
Her daughter is happier at school, happier with her mum and happy that she is still in contact with her father.
Lucy attributes the turnaround to her faith, and to the family relationship services of Catholic Care.
When she approached the student counsellor at her daughter’s primary school she was referred to Catholic Care, and that’s when her personal nightmare started to turn around.
‘I feel like my prayers were answered,’ she said. ‘We were living in a garage and I didn’t know what to do.’
Catholic Care helped her arrange assistance from Centrelink, found her a modest but clean two bedroom and organised food from the OzHarvest charity, along with aid in cooking so she could prepare her own healthy meals.
A case worker started helping her and her daughter deal with the emotional turmoil in their lives, the mental upheaval that so often accompanies domestic violence, broken marriages and a financially precarious existence.
The regular visits to her home are continuing, and the case worker is in constant touch.
‘I poured out my stories to her. We needed that human touch,’ said Lucy.
‘My daughter needed support; she was a little bit down, in a new school, in a new area. We knew no-one, she was still missing her daddy, and she was very emotional, crying with her friends.
‘By the grace of God I’m really content. We don’t set a plan; we go day by day. Slowly, steadily, we are getting somewhere. I feel so different. We have a nice life; I have a bond with my daughter again; our relationship has been born again, and she is in contact with her father every day.
‘We have received really practical help, as well as help with emotions and with healing. I asked for help in building her relationship with me, and with her daddy. CatholicCare has been sitting with us, listening to us, and that means a lot.’
Case worker Taru Mathur said: ‘It’s nice to see things change for the better. Everything is falling into place; it’s looking nice.’
Manager Linda Davis said Catholic Care’s Emerton centre was able to directly help around 600 people in the region each year, and through them their families, too.
A dozen counsellors were on hand to help them deal with domestic violence, trauma, financial hardship, life skills, relationship, parenting and separation issues.
‘We have a really good staff of caring people who are all there for the right reasons,’ she said. ‘They are passionate about helping.’