lifestyle

"You are desperately in need of help yet no-one can hear you."

Imagine you’ve not slept in a proper bed for weeks. Your body is craving a shower and a meal, you’ve misplaced important documents, you have no family nearby and the friendships that you do have are fragile. You are having trouble making yourself understood and people are walking past you as if you are invisible.

You are acutely aware that those people who do notice you see you as something “other” than themselves and you feel the shame and embarrassment of being homeless.

As Suzanne, 27, describes, “People just see you as a homeless person or they see you as a thief. Homelessness usually comes with the labels of being a thief, or a junkie or this and that and that’s not always the case. Just because you are homeless, it doesn’t mean that you are all those things as well.”

Someone else on the street tells you about a drop-in centre for women. There you will be safe. You won’t be judged. You will find a free, hot lunch and a warm welcome. You can have a shower and wash your clothes. You can talk to a social worker, use the internet, you can start getting reconnected. Or you can just be.

Sacred Heart Mission Women’s House in Melbourne’s inner-city suburb of St Kilda offers just this sort of respite every weekday. We offer services and programs specifically tailored for women experiencing homelessness and social exclusion. This safe and welcoming space helps more than 140 women per month. Assistance and referrals are provided for housing, counselling, drug and alcohol support, physical and mental health, parenting advice and legal support. Lunch, showers and laundry facilities are offered.

This March we are asking Melbourne women (and men) to help keep our Women’s House doors open to women such as Suzanne by attending our Light Up A Life cocktail party fundraiser.

Taking place in the same month as International Women’s Day, we’re expecting hundreds of men and women to gather for this sunset cocktail party on Thursday 19 March at Encore, St Kilda Sea Baths. Hosting the event is Australian radio and TV personality Jo Stanley, with live music provided by Phil Ceberano and the SoulRockSupersound. We would love to meet some Mamamia readers at this sparkling evening of cocktails and entertainment by the sea.

The Women4Women Committee at last years event.

Dozens of prizes are up for grabs in a raffle and both silent and live auctions. Some of the money-can’t-buy prizes which guests can bid for include:

  • the opportunity to be an “extra” on a filming day of a new live, sketch comedy show on Foxtel, starring Marg Downey, Magda Szubanski, Jane Turner, Gina Riley and a number of young comics
  • a love song written to spec, tailored especially for the winner by well-known singer/songwriter/pianist and radio personality Monique DiMattina, who has worked with Lou Reed and Bjork. This prize-winner will receive a MP3 recording of their song
  • St Kilda FC boots worn and signed by wingman Farren Ray during the 2014 season
  • a private screening at Cinema Nova for you and 19 guests.

Tickets are $125 and are available via sacredheartmission.org or by calling 1800 443 278.

Our goal is to raise $95,000 in much-needed funds for the Women’s House.

The Victorian Government provides partial funding however the Women’s House relies on the community to fund the remainder of its operations.

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