Hope is a 62-year-old, single woman with no family and very limited social networks to call upon when times get tough. After nine years of holding her own in her community in Taranaki, five months ago, she lost the only stable object in her world – her home.

For Hope, home is a place or feeling of belonging. A place where somethings flourishes.

I first meet Hope when she came into the office needing housing support. Her landlord wanted to sell the rental property she lived in. She had been given 90 days’ notice, however in today’s market this is no longer plenty of time. Prior to this tenancy Hope had been living in residential services, and her references were limited. From my experience, I knew that by disclosing the residential support she had received, her tenancy history was perpetually marred with silent un-educated discrimination. I committed then and there to help Hope in whatever way I could.

“It became very clear that without LinkPeople’s housing support Hope would become another faceless victim of the housing crisis.”

I knew from my experience working with vulnerable people that it was important that I supported Hope as much as I could, to prevent her from being taken advantage of. She had numerous challenges including her limited income, unrealistic expectations and struggled with her written and oral comprehension.

With continued persistence, I finally managed to find Hope a property – a perfect needle in a haystack. I then began advocating on her behalf.  I spoke with the property owner and had all her utilities/emergency alarms transferred, timeframes and other expectations confirmed with her current landlord. I kept in close contact with Hope’s community support worker and together we helped her vacant her current property.

I arranged quotes with removal companies and had this accepted through WINZ along with her new bond and rent payments. To ensure both the agent and Hope begin the tenancy with confidence, I ensured that re-direction for rent, power, and Hope’s St John payments were all set up.

Hope has diabetes so it was important her physical wellbeing was being looked after. I made sure she had easy meals to prepare and put aside, as well as time to eat during the chaos of moving.  I supported her throughout her move.

“Hope has gone from strength to strength. She has found a place to belong and is flourishing in a community of people who accept her for her”.

Hope’s neighbours have taken her under their wing and check in with her to see if she needs support to the supermarket whenever they go. The fact that she now accepts their offer is huge.

Hope does not ooze social acceptance with witty commentary and fancy clothes, however, she is a community diamond who speaks her mind, discloses her vulnerabilities and stands proud.

Despite being a bit anxious about the her new environment, Hope’s new home has created a fantastic opportunity for her to learn more about living in a shared environment. She now understands the do’s and don’ts of complex sharing eg washing machine etiquette, washing line allocation, rubbish collection days.

Her interaction with the other tenants has formed an unspoken bond that Hope was looking for, a mindset where they all keep an eye out for each other.

*Hope’s name has been changed to protect her confidentiality.

This story has been shared with the permission of Wendy and Hope.

Hope has taught me that in a world that is fast-paced, anonymous and tumultuous, there are people.  Beautiful, kind hearted and vulnerable people.  Like a diamond, each experience carves a new facet to their story.  People count.