1 September, 2023
“We went into hardship on our mortgage and my sick pay ran out, my annual leave ran out, everything ran out, and we were living off nothing.”
Perri and her husband were living the Australian dream: they had a mortgage on a home and Perri was facing a promotion that would make the pair very comfortable. But an injury turned her whole world upside down.
“Life changes very, very quickly,” Perri says. “I had a very comfortable job and I was due to have a promotion. Unfortunately, I had a fall at home and I fractured my right leg very, very badly. It took 18 months for me to recover.”
Perri is a nurse, and her injury prevented her from working. During this time, Perri used all her leave from work before falling back on her savings. Her husband was working casually, but his work was unreliable. When their savings were depleted, Perri and her husband faced the reality of not knowing where their next meal was going to come from.
“It got to the point where we just could not live anymore,” Perri says. “I had to try and find help. One of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life was to ask for help.”
By looking at her local council’s list of food services, Perri found herself on ADRA’s doorstep. The relief that she felt was instant.
“I got bags and bags and bags of groceries that I wouldn’t have been able to buy,” she says. “I came in here in tears and left with food and a smile on my face and a full belly that night. And that made all the difference.”
When Perri recovered, she applied for a new job. But before her new career could get off the ground, her husband suffered a stroke.
“Not long after I was able to return to work in a new job, my partner had a stroke and subsequently he’s had two further strokes,” says Perri. “So I’m his full-time carer now.”
Perri now receives a carer’s allowance and her husband receives the age pension. But when compared to the cost-of-living, their budget was still tight and they were still considered to be food insecure. ADRA’s food support is helping to relieve that pressure.
“That extra money that we’re not spending on food I can spend on the electricity and gas,” she says. “It still hasn’t changed us to where we can go out for a restaurant meal or get takeaway, but we still get a roof over our head.”
Over time, Perri was so touched by the support she received from ADRA that she felt moved to give back in any way she could. And so, she decided to join the team of ADRA volunteers.
“I love being a volunteer and it warms my heart,” Perri says. “I go home on a Monday absolutely exhausted, but my heart is full.”
As a client and a volunteer, Perri is in a unique position. Her experience allows her to connect with the clients that walk through the door every Monday in a personal way.
“I’ve been there, that’s the bottom line,” Perri says. “I’ve felt like a failure of like, what do I do tomorrow? Am I going to lose everything? And that’s how a lot of them come here.
“People are really embarrassed asking for help because, you know, yesterday they were fine, but today they’re not. And to ask for help is embarrassing.”
Over the past couple of years, the number of people seeking ADRA’s support has increased vastly. The impact of COVID-19 compounded by the cost-of-living crisis has new people coming through ADRA’s doors every week.
“Our clientele has doubled, if not tripled, with the cost of living going up now,” says Perri.
For so many like Perri that are staring down empty shelves, ADRA provides essential food support. But equally important to the clients is the love and support they feel every time they step through ADRA’s doors.
“ADRA is food support. But more than food support, it’s emotional support for me,” Perri says. “It’s seeing friendly faces every Monday, whether they be clients or the other volunteers that are here. It makes me whole again after a long week as a carer and it just makes me happy and fulfilled when we close the doors and we know people have got full tummies.”
“I just want to thank you for your support for people like me and for the people that walk through our doors. It means so, so much.”
ADRA Australia has over 100 Australian community projects, run in collaboration with local Seventh-day Adventist Churches. Your gift by October 31 can provide Aussies, just like Perri, with the support they need to get back on their feet. Donate now at adra.org.au/donate