Here we feature long-standing resident, Coral (nom de plume). Coral doesn’t typically like the spotlight but when approached to share her story, she obliged. Here she shares her story about her search to find a place to call home.
Ten years ago, Coral arrived in Australia with her then husband. She’d left her family and friends back home in Europe and dared to migrate to a new country where she couldn’t speak the language.
As a mature age person, Coral found the move challenging to say the least. But her journey of instability and her search for a home really started when she found herself in a domestic violence situation and needing to leave her husband.
Unable to return home and with little English, Coral tried to navigate support services and get the help she needed. A lawyer that she met offered help by giving her the domestic violence hotline contact details. It was a first step forward.
Coral was housed in a refuge and spent the next several years studying English and short courses and working part-time. She had a bachelor’s degree in psychology in her home country and was hopeful to reaccredit here.
Although she was progressing, she was still experiencing challenges with her accommodation.
Sometimes there were substance affected neighbours and incidents that impeded her ability to get to work or study on time, or at all. This was tough and meant several moves and relocations over several years. It was critical for Coral to find a long-term home where she felt safe and secure.
Eventually, a helping hand showed up in the form of a TAFE teacher who became a trusted friend. With her teacher’s help Coral found her way to Link Housing. Her application for social housing was successful and for the first time since arriving in Australia, Coral was given the opportunity to rent a home for herself where she had real privacy and was able live a normal life after many uncomfortable and unsettled years.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was crying. I made two large trays of lasagne and took them in for the staff at Link Housing,” Coral says.
Coral was so touched by the care and generosity of Link Housing and its staff. A wish had come true for her as she settled into her home.
“My other wish was – if I can work, I will help people. Some of those people called me an angel,” she says.
Though unable to work as a psychologist here in Australia, Coral completed short courses and certificates while working to find a job that would allow her to give something back by helping others.
As part of this quest, she volunteered her time in a Motor neuron disease support centre, providing administration support. She was awarded ‘Volunteer of the Year’ from the local council in 2011 for her efforts.
Coral also worked as a bi-lingual worker for approximately five years, helping people in very similar circumstances she’d experienced, as part of an immigration support program. This was very satisfying, and she enjoyed helping them.
Now, in her mid-50’s, Coral goes to the gym a few times a week and although she has a few ailments, with the instructor’s guidance she does her version of the exercises. She still works part-time, providing transport support to families in need of it.
The life she had pictured for herself is quite different to the life she has now, but she’s happy. Coral gives back because she feels so very fortunate to have found Link Housing.
“I appreciate all the managers and I don’t know how to say thank you to all of Link Housing staff. I don’t have a sentence for that,” Coral finishes.