One year of Next Door: Wendy’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 Wendy’s* story.

I was in a pretty bad situation before Next Door. I had moved to Canberra after six years of caring for my daughter with disabilities in WA. I had gotten her set up in her own house and living independently with her partner, had done everything I could for her. I didn’t know it, but I was ‘burnt out’ at the time. So I set off to Canberra, where I had family, for a new start!

It was difficult. I didn’t have my own home and couldn’t afford one to even rent. I was studying a CIT course in individual support and care for aged care and community service while working part-time in that sector. I was able to juggle that with my living arrangements, which weren’t all that adequate, but it was tough. I wasn’t earning enough for a lot of housing options, even those for people on low incomes.

It’s hard to start life again. It was sort of like manoeuvring along a journey and you’ve been stripped of everything and you have to re-equip yourself. I didn’t know where to start. And I wasn’t in a position to make good, sensible decisions.

Then I found Next Door and my case manager, Pam. I can only say that Pam helped save my life.

Walking through that door to YWCA Canberra opened a pathway to getting back into life for me. I was able to start my life over after that time lapse of being a carer and being an older woman on her own.

It wasn’t easy, but Pam put me in contact with assistance, guided me, showed me different alternatives to get what I needed. With support from Next Door, I was able to make contact with people in the Housing Department, and they helped me with references. I learnt a lot, like about how to access JobSeeker payments.

Nothing was a problem for the Next Door ladies. They took issues in their stride and forged on ahead. They really built up my spirits and enabled my self-confidence. The sincerity and honesty of Shelagh and Pam and YWCA Canberra more generally was beautiful. They accepted me, no matter what. That sort of guidance and knowing someone cares about you and wants to help you without condition, helps you realise you’re not a bad person after being pummelled by a few of life’s situations.

I fondly remember the Christmas party YWCA Canberra put on for the women in the Next Door program. It was just such a fantastic day, getting together with people I’d come to know along the way and meeting other women who had been in my sort of situation. I found out another woman in my TAFE course was being helped by Next Door too!

And YWCA Canberra also involved us in discussions on the future of housing for older women, really listened to us and gave us the opportunity to provide feedback.

The extra confidence and clarity I got helped me to be positive and I was, magically, offered accommodation in Queensland by someone from my past. Due to an injury from an accident, I had to review my options, so I decided to embark on a new life back up in Queensland.

I’m so much happier in my life now, and in myself.

I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for YWCA Canberra giving me my life back.


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:

*not the client’s real name.

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