James' story: How homelessness affects families in need
James* and his wife Sophie* are proud parents to seven-year-old Rosie* and five-year-old Billy*. With their much-loved family dog, they were like any other Australian family until they hit hard times. Read how, thanks to our supporters and staff, James was able to overcome the trauma of homelessness and provide a safe home for his children.
James' story: Feeling like a failure
James worked hard to support his family but when his party-planning business collapsed, his world was turned upside down. No longer able to pay the rent, the family was evicted from their home without a place to go.
With mounting debts and no relatives or friends to turn to, the family's only choice was to live in their car with their belongings and the pet dog. James struggled to provide even the basics for his family like food, or petrol to drive the children to school. Things were getting harder and harder, and James was losing all hope.
Faced with one impossible decision after another, James and Sophie decided to relocate interstate so they could temporarily stay with James' elderly parents. Sadly, before they arrived, James' father fell ill, and their plans fell through.
James was overcome with embarrassment. Unable to provide for his two young children, James felt worthless and ashamed.
With no home and nowhere to turn, someone referred him to Mission Australia for help.
Our teams worked hard to provide James and his family with suitable crisis accommodation. We secured temporary housing for Sophie and the children at a women’s shelter while James slept with the family pet in the car.
“I didn't want the kids to know the truth. We told them they were having a holiday with mummy, while I went camping with the dog,” James shared.
It was comforting for James to know his family was safe, but he still yearned for a way to provide for his family. Eventually, our staff secured a suitable home for the entire family. It was a distressing time for the whole family but James and Sophie tried to keep life as normal as possible for the children. The family would eat breakfast together in a local park and James would walk Rosie and Billy to school.
During 2019–20, almost 50% of people seeking assistance from homelessness support services were families with children.1 Tragically, shelters and crisis accommodation are frequently so full that they must turn away families, even though they have no place safe to sleep.
Realistically in Australia, most people experiencing homelessness are hidden from sight. They could be like James, sleeping in a car, couch surfing or staying in temporary dwellings like crisis accommodation or motels. They may have shelter but no permanent place to make a home. They are experiencing ‘hidden homelessness’.
From homelessness to smiling again
Being connected with Mission Australia was James' first step to getting his confidence back. We helped him enroll the children in a local school, and with our support, he found his family a permanent home. Our social workers focused on improving the emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing of the whole family to help them overcome the trauma of their homelessness and start smiling again.
We are excited to report that the family is now happily living under the same roof. We are continuing to support James to get back on track and re-establish his own business so the family can regain their independence, plan a positive future, and rebuild their loving home.
Help end homelessness in Australia
When a family's life is thrown into chaos, like James', all they need is some extra support to get them back on their feet.
With your donation, vulnerable families can access the urgent support they need to find a safe home and thrive.
1AIHW (2020) Specialist homelessness services, Specialist homelessness services annual report. Retrieved fromhttps://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-annual-report
*Names changed to protect the people we help.
Related news and stories
Read about what we’ve been working on, our stance on important social issues and how you make a difference to vulnerable Australians' lives.