Sue* has spent most of her life battling self-esteem issues and depression. But the Salvos have walked alongside her and made sure she is not alone.
My grandparents always loved The Salvation Army because of all the good they did in the war. I was actually in The Salvation Army as a child in the Sunbeams; but there were some domestic violence issues at home and I couldn’t stay.
Any self-esteem I had was beaten out of me as a kid. Mum had mental health problems, and I was often shamed. Domestic violence has been a part of my life nearly all my life. My mum ran away from domestic violence and isolated herself a few times. We’d have to go out west onto sheep stations because there was no single mothers’ pension in those days. Then she’d come back into another domestic violence situation.
I didn’t really know what love was. I was often physically abused and when I got into relationships I didn’t know any different. The Salvos came back into my life when I was taken by workers at another shelter, while pregnant, and with one little boy, to Nambour. I’d walked out of my situation with only a bag of toys and a bag of clothes.
At that stage I was reluctant to go to the Salvos’ women’s group because of depression and very low self-esteem. I was that bad I couldn’t even get on a bus, but they introduced me to safe people and we were able to get involved. I really, really appreciated The Salvation Army being there. They said, “Come up for a cup of tea”, then, “Come and also have a go at becoming a volunteer”.
They helped us out immensely with Christmas hampers and presents for quite some years when the boys were younger—often even a present for me which was really special. They also helped me move and they helped us with food and other support until I began working and didn’t need their help that often. I was really only able to find the confidence to work after first volunteering with the Salvos.
Last Christmas my work hours were slashed—they didn’t even cover the rent and there were no decorations and no Christmas tree. The Salvos again helped us with a hamper and just before Christmas also helped me with the money towards moving. I don’t drive, but we had to physically move from the old place we’d basically been trapped in for years. Everything was mouldy because the owner wouldn’t repair the roof.
So the Salvos in Nambour have stepped in at some really important times. They are amazing people, and have walked a lot with me and my boys over the years and that has definitely made a big difference.
I’d love to also say to people who donate—when you’re depressed, sometimes you can find yourself in a deep hole and that help and care just gives you hope. It gives you something to hang onto. It’s a loving hand-up, not a handout, and it’s hard to ask for. But you just hope that one day you can possibly give some of it back. That’s why I started volunteering at the Salvos, so I could give back a little bit of what I’ve been given.
I’m proud of where I am now, but it’s been a long road and I absolutely appreciate the help I’ve received. It’s like the old saying ‘Thank God for the Salvos’—I owe them so much. I know I am loved and my Salvation Army family is only a phone call away.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst
*True story, name changed.