Casey’s experience with homelessness has a positive ending, thanks to organisations like Hunter Homeless Connect.
Leaving home when she was very young and having her first child at 16, Casey found herself navigating a couple of volatile relationships. Without the support of her family after moving interstate, her life spiralled and she found herself living on the street.
Prior to becoming homeless, Casey had studied community services, so she was aware of many of the support services available, for people in crisis. However, what she wasn’t aware of, was how difficult it would be, to navigate the system without a fixed address. Disconnected from family and friends, it was a difficult cycle to break, and she spent five years sleeping rough.
“When I was living on the street in 2019, I had heard all about the services provided at the annual Hunter Homeless Connect Day event, and the fact that there were so many of them in the one place. At the time, I was finding it impossible to connect with services, even after seeing the Centrelink Social Worker a dozen times. I knew that what was on offer there, was the answer to so many issues going on for me, the free birth certificate stands out. However, due to the unpredictable nature of living homeless, I missed being able to attend the event, then Covid shut the world down and I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Together Home Program in 2020, which ultimately saw me secure a permanent home with Home in Place.
Hunter Homeless Connect Day is held in August each year, and it’s the month I moved into my unit, so it's a special anniversary of when I got my new home. As someone that has been homeless, I see that what the organisation does is what people in true crisis and if not homeless, or on the brink of homelessness really need. The services are amazing and so important and the fact that they are in the same location under the one roof on the one day working together, makes it so much easier to get the support you need. You can’t replicate that kind of accessibility outside of the event.
I have been so fortunate to secure a home and to have the opportunity to turn my life around, and it means a lot to me to be able to give back, so I started volunteering at HHCD in 2022 and came back again in 2023.
Being able to help others, gave me the much-needed confidence to decide to revisit my studies so that I can continue to give back. It's been an integral part of my journey.”