Give more than hope: Keep families together this Christmas


November 1, 2018

We need to raise $250,000 by Christmas Eve to ensure families like Sandra and her granddaughters can stay together. Your tax deductible donation will provide the support they need for a better future.

Sandra held the little girl in her arms, fighting to hold back the tears. Being a grandmother was supposed to be full of joy and delight. She could never have imagined that it would be like this – sleeping in the back of a car surrounded by their belongings.

It was only a few months ago that she had brought Lainey* home, full of hope that the little girl’s older sister could join them soon.

But now dreams of holding her family together were in tatters. She had been evicted from her rental home and had nowhere to go.

Across Victoria and Tasmania, people like Sandra are fighting to hold their families together. Donate now to give more than hope this Christmas, providing urgent support in their time of need.

Years of supporting her family

Sandra had fought so hard to be the anchor for her family over the years.

Her son’s ongoing struggle with drug use had led to repeated jail time. When his partner encountered the same issues, the situation grew worse.

When their first daughter, Sasha*, was born, Sandra often looked after the baby when the couple couldn’t. Over the next seven years Sandra did everything she could to balance her full-time work with supporting the young family.

Then Lainey was born. Not long after her first birthday, she was placed in Sandra’s care, and Sasha was sent to an aunt. The family’s separation was painful, but at least she could give Lainey a safer home now.

Sandra had to give up her work to care for Lainey. The huge drop in income was already making things tough before she received the eviction letter. Without a job, there was no hope of finding a private rental house.

Sandra applied for public housing but was knocked back. She had run out of options.

Homeless and afraid

Can you imagine what it must have been like for Sandra – a grandmother in her late 50s, full of grief, suddenly jobless, homeless, and sleeping in a car with an 18-month-old little girl she has committed to caring for?

Sandra was frightened and stressed. She had to be there for her granddaughters. It was essential for them to be together. But without a stable home, Lainey could end up in foster care, and the chances of the girls growing up together could disappear forever.

The thought was devastating. Sandra needed someone to help her, and quickly.

We know that children who can’t live with their parents have much better lives if they get to stay with their brothers and sisters. Your donation today will support people like Sandra across Victoria and Tasmania to keep children together so they get the best start in life.

Help in a time of crisis

In her time of desperation, Sandra turned to Uniting. Soon she was in crisis accommodation, and our team worked with her to find a place to live. “Uniting has been a part of my life ever since,” said Sandra.

Finding a place to live was a great relief, but Sandra still had a huge challenge ahead of her. Without a job and looking after a pre-schooler, she had to survive on a Government allowance, which never seemed to go far enough.

For Sandra, Uniting’s support with crisis accommodation was just the beginning. Being able to rely on financial support and advice, food relief and other material aid has allowed Sandra to focus on building for the future. And she doesn’t have to choose between putting food on the table or the girls’ education and wellbeing.

With this vital support, Sandra was able to stabilise her situation and create a safe home for herself and Lainey.

Across Victoria and Tasmania more than 39% of children who can’t live with their parents are in the care of relatives. We need to wrap our arms around people like Sandra so they can wrap their arms around these children and provide a safe, stable, loving home.

Sisters reunited

Five years ago, the stability Sandra had built meant Sasha was placed in her care full time, bringing the two girls together again. It was such a wonderful moment for Sandra and the girls to finally be in the one home.

Now Sandra, Sasha and Lainey were all together as a family, and with Uniting support, the hope of a better future that included their parents lay ahead of them. Mum and dad could visit them regularly. For a few years, life seemed to be settling down.

But then came a heartbreaking moment.

Sandra and the girls were waiting for their mother to arrive to spend time with them when they got the devastating news: she had died.

The girls were distraught. Sandra had to deal with her own grief and support her granddaughters at the same time.

“Losing their mother has been hard on the girls, especially at such a young age,” Sandra said.

In the midst of all the grief, the pressures of daily survival didn’t go away as Sandra continued do her best to stretch her meagre income to cover all their needs.

Previous christmases had already been tough, but that Christmas was tougher than any before. Thankfully, Sandra had Uniting to walk with her through this greatest of challenges.

Your donation means that Sandra and her grandchildren will celebrate Christmas together this year, and every year. Donate now to ensure families can be together at this special time of year.

A daily struggle to get by

Sandra is now 65. She should be preparing to enjoy her retirement and all the joy and relaxation earned from a lifetime of work.

But she’s not.

Instead, Sandra is constantly struggling to get by as she faithfully raises her two granddaughters to give them the best future possible. She needs our help to do it.

“It’s hard raising two young girls on a government allowance. Most of that is spent on basic living expenses,” Sandra said.

“I want to give the girls the best life I can. They’ve been through a lot in their young lives. They’ve seen things no children should see.”

Sandra knows that Uniting is there to help provide for her granddaughters. She will often rely on the Uniting food pantry to get her through to the next pay day. The fresh bread and vegetables help her to stretch meals further.

“When you’re struggling for money, food is often the first thing to go,” Sandra said.

“If I’m running low on money, I know I can still provide the girls with food thanks to Uniting.”

Support with school fees ensures the girls receive a good education, and help with removalist costs allowed the family to relocate recently to a private rental property.

And, most importantly, the family stays together, giving them the best chance of building a better tomorrow.

“The support is just fantastic. They are always there to help,” she said.

“The staff are like family to the girls and I. It makes life a lot less stressful when you have people you can turn to when times are tough.”

“Uniting is a vital part of my life. Without them, I don’t know where the girls and I would be.”

You can ensure that Sandra and families across Victoria and Tasmania get the support they need to stay together this Christmas, and every Christmas. Your generous donation means these families can build for the future.

It’s been a long journey for Sandra, and many other families in our community find themselves in similar crisis situations that could tear them apart.

Thank you for being there for Sandra and her granddaughters when they need it most. With your ongoing support, Sandra knows that she can keep wrapping her arms around her granddaughters and give Sasha and Lainey the loving home they need.

We need to raise $250,000 by Christmas Eve to keep families together. Your tax deductible donation will give more than hope this Christmas. You’ll be keeping families together.

* Names have been changed.

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