'Suzie' finds her 'first real home'
'Suzie'* loves going to the movies. Before her involvement with McAuley, this wasn’t something she was able to do.
“I lived with mum until I was 30. I had no freedom. I was able to go out to collect my pension but I always had to come back straight away. My life was about going to bed early, getting up when mum did, staying home and getting bored.”
Suzie, who has schizophrenia, thinks her mother may have been trying to protect her, but says she had no life.
Her mother decided to return to her home country of Croatia. Suzie was unable to go with her as she would not be able to access her pension or the medical treatment she needed. Essentially, with her mother’s move overseas, Suzie was homeless.
“I had nowhere to go. I went to see my case worker in Sunshine and she recommended McAuley House. It was called Regina Coeli then. I stayed there for five years. It was my first real home.”
“At first I was really quiet, really withdrawn. But I was safe there and it was a good place. I started to come out of my shell, to enjoy life, to enjoy my freedom.”
Suzie discovered the simple pleasure of being able to do what she wanted.
“I love going to the movies and I love playing soccer, I couldn’t do those things when I lived with mum.”
Although Suzie no longer lives at McAuley, she is a regular visitor, maintaining weekly Scrabble games with old friends.
“The best thing is that you can still do things when you don’t live there. I come in for a coffee or a meal and I hang out with my friends.
Suzie doesn’t know what the future holds but she does know one thing: “I will be doing what I want to do and I will still be visiting McAuley.”
Suzie says that without McAuley she would be living on the streets. She wishes she had something to give back.
“I have nothing to give them and I would love to give them something back. So I give them my heart and I just love them more and more.”
*not her real name
Find out more about how McAuley House supports women like 'Suzie'