Suzi's World Cup PassionMcAuley House opened up Suzie’s world. It’s also where she discovered soccer, the game that led her to Poland last year (2013) to compete in the Homeless Street Soccer World Cup. Suzi loves the game and will be proudly sporting her green and gold colours in coming days, along with many other friends from McAuley House in Melbourne.
Suzi came to McAuley House because she was homeless and before too long she discovered a real home, a place that offered her care, security, friendship, trust and love. Suzie also found a sense of freedom she had never before experienced and was encouraged to participate in regular soccer training and games at a nearby venue.
In 2006 when Suzie moved into McAuley House, formerly known as Regina Coeli. She had lived with her mother in St Albans until her mother moved overseas. Suzie, who has mental health problems, was left homeless and a caseworker introduced her to McAuley House.
McAuley House, a program of McAuley Community Services for Women (a ministry of the Mercy Sisters)) works toward preventing homelessness. McAuley provides crisis accommodation (only for women who are experiencing family violence) as well as longer-term accommodation at McAuley House for women who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. The women are offered accommodation, meals, intensive and individualised case management support and skill development, on their journey towards recovery and independence.
“I remember when I came here on my first day I was scared because I didn’t know anyone and I had left what I did know,” she said. “But soon I knew lots of other ladies and some are now my good friends,” Suzie said.
Suzie lived at McAuley House for five years and grew to love the community that exists in the large rambling house in Melbourne’s inner city. In 2011 Suzie’s caseworker helped her find new community housing in St Kilda, near Albert Park Lake.
Suzie thrived in the community that has been built at McAuley House, and she remains a part of it. Women who have lived at McAuley House remain connected through the service’s outreach program. Suzie and her friends are welcomed warmly when they arrive for the weekly Wednesday community dinner. Most years she also celebrates significant events, such as Christmas and her birthday with the McAuley House community.
“Soon after I came here they encouraged me to be part of all the things that go on so I learnt to go out and get around. I still go on outings with the ladies here, or I go out with my friends. I sometimes go with friends to the movies and we can catch the tram home.”
Suzie, who works part-time at The Big Issue, also calls into McAuley House before going on to nearby soccer training. The game has become a passion, fuelled by her participation in the recent Homeless Street Soccer World Cup in Poland. Suzie is still proudly showing off her medal and the green and gold uniform she wore for the international event.
“My life is good now, really good. I am happy.”