One year of Next Door: Cheryl’s story

7 August 2020

For the first anniversary of our Next Door program, we wanted our client’s voices to be heard.

This is Cheryl’s* story.

When I was referred to YWCA Canberra’s Next Door program, it’s no stretch to say it was a life-changing moment.

As a homeless mature-age woman, I’d held onto the last shred of my dignity by housesitting for nine years while pretending it was a choice. It was never a choice, it was a necessity. Then COVID-19 travel bans and lockdowns eliminated the need for house sitters. My housing situation became perilous.

Enter Shelagh and the Next Door program. Shelagh and her team saw beyond the disempowered woman I’d become. They knew stability was the crucial first step towards rebuilding my life, COVID or no COVID.

They found me transitional accommodation while urging Housing ACT to approve me as a Priority needs applicant. They supported me all the way to my new home, a perfect Age Persons Unit in a perfect location.

Shelagh is an extraordinary team leader and advocates for women who’ve unexpectedly had their financial and emotional worlds turned upside down. The Next Door team is a powerhouse of women who deeply care about their clients, and who solve previously insurmountable problems for them. They truly make a difference.

I felt only despair and disempowerment when trying to navigate the public housing system alone for two years. It always ended in tears and distress. I’d given up. That was, until Shelagh and the Next Door team championed my cause.

I can never thank them enough. They’ve been my guardian angels.


Do you know an older woman in need of support to secure and maintain an affordable, appropriate and safe home? Find out more about how it works or contact our team:

  • email
  • call 02 6185 2000.

*not the client’s real name.

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