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Donate a meal this Christmas

Not everyone will be looking forward to Christmas this year. It reminds Fred* of being lonely and isolated. Over the 12 days of Christmas, Sacred Heart Mission will serve around 5,000 nutritious meals to people who rely on our Dining Hall.

And this year alone, we have to raise a further $717,000 to keep this important community service running.

sacredheartmission christmas quote web

Fred’s story shows how the past support of our generous donors has helped end his experience of homelessness, for good. And to show you why we need you to give again.

Christmas is always a fun, vibrant time at Sacred Heart Mission’s Dining Hall. It provides a safe, welcoming space where people can share a meal without being judged or forced into support services.

We use our meals and the positive environment we foster in the Dining Hall to build a sense of community, encouraging people to seek support on their own terms.

Donate today to provide Christmas meals to people in our community:

Donate now

Suddenly, life can go into freefall

Fred, a friendly, well-educated Melburnian is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology. He is focusing on developing a career that helps others. When you meet him, his gentle demeanour and passion to help is clear.

He knows exactly what it’s like to be on top of the world before life goes into freefall. And like many of us, and many of the people Sacred Heart Mission will see over the festive period, Fred too has needed the support from his community:

“I got diagnosed with cancer in 2009. That really hit me like a tonne of bricks. Up to that point I felt like Superman – invincible.

My wife was six months pregnant with my third child. It was so tough as we were living on a two and a half acre property and I couldn't physically do anything.

I became really withdrawn and depressed. The chemo really knocked me about. I started drinking to help get through the queasiness from the chemo, which probably wasn't a good idea.

It did help me get through it, but unfortunately [the drinking] carried on.

The positive thing was that I was around for the first year of my daughter's life. We developed a really close bond.”

Fred’s drinking became problematic. He took himself to rehab when his marriage was at risk, but unfortunately his wife couldn’t see it working and he had to move out.

Fred points to his cancer and the breakdown of his marriage as the reason he experienced homelessness:

“I had really withdrawn emotionally. I wasn't expressing my emotions which I think was a product of the time I grew up: If a man showed any sort of emotions it was a sign of weakness. So I decided not to show any emotions.

My drinking increased and I withdrew even more. I ended up in hospital and spending New Year's Eve in hospital, which was lovely (not really).”

sacred heart mission client fred and his daughter

Fred hadn’t seen his daughter for six months, but it was the good relationship he maintained with his ex-wife and his daughter that drove him to turn things around:

“My ex-wife was really supportive of the relationship I had with my daughter. She said ‘once you get secure housing you can have every second weekend with her, and half the holidays’, so I was like, ‘OK, how do I get a secure house?’”

Support people to live the life they choose

Drinking wasn’t the cause of Fred’s experience of homelessness, it was a consequence of the challenges he faced.

He has been sober for over five years now. Neither the drinking, nor the homelessness defined who he was. And it doesn’t define him now.

Your action today will ensure the people we work with in our community can live the life that is defined by them.

I would like to take action today

It all starts with a meal...

After a series of transitional homes and rehabilitation programs a friend suggested he and Fred go for a meal at Sacred Heart Mission’s Dining Hall in St Kilda:

“There was a long line of people. I felt really apprehensive and nervous. Fortunately I had my friend with me who reassured me that it was a safe space.

Walking in you see the bain-marie straightaway. The first thing I noticed was the smell. It’s like when you come home to the smell of mum’s home cooking.

I had breakfast. Scrambled eggs on toast, baked beans, a coffee and some juice.

It reminded me of how I felt eating my first meal after [my] cancer surgery. My tongue was dancing around and doing high fives. I was like ‘how good is this?!’.

It was incredible, nobody was judgmental. It was a really safe space. There was no pressure to do anything. It really surprised me to get something for nothing.”

takeaway meals at sacred heart mission square

Fred counts this first meal as the point when things started to change for the better. He had a decent chat with a Sacred Heart Pathways Worker who listened to his story and referred Fred to a program called Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI).

“I was accepted into the program and moved into some transitional housing in St Kilda. This was after a couple of years of being homeless when I wasn’t able to see my daughter at all.

That was a turning point of my life actually, having that.

When they got me this place in a private block of flats, I took my daughter there and said ‘this is our new home.’ You know when kids jump up and down with glee? That's just what she did when I told her.

After two years there I was offered permanent housing, which I’ve been living in for the past three years. It’s private, safe and secure. It's such a lovely area. There’s a park right next door, which my daughter loves too.”

Fred continues to help others by leading a rehab program in the area he lives in and also provides support to people who are going through similar cancer treatments that he went through.

With you by our side, we have been able to support Fred from start to finish. Starting with a meal which built trust and a positive relationship, Fred was able to access long-term life changing support through J2SI.

Please support people in our community who will eat a meal prepared by our Dining Hall this Christmas.

Donate now

0136,596Meals served through our meals program over the last year
069,269Hours contributed by our volunteers over the last year
05,740Responses at our Women’s House over the last year
Sacred Heart Mission respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we operate our services. We pay our respects to the ongoing living cultures of Aboriginal peoples, and to Elders past, present and future.
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