Richard’s Story

Finding my Flourish Australia family and getting involved with my local church community were the keys to leaving behind the loneliness and isolation I had been living with.

Finding my Flourish Australia family and getting involved with my local church community were the keys to leaving behind the loneliness and isolation I had been living with. Although I have lived here in Australia for 41 years, I still identify as Korean and my local Korean gospel church has kept me connected to my heritage. My family migrated to Australia from South Korea in the 70’s. I lived in Sydney, Melbourne and Lismore before mental health issues led to my being hospitalised on and off, over a period of about 30 years. I came to Newcastle because I had family and friends here and now I count my Flourish Australia family among them. I first started going into Flourish Australia’s Newcastle centre a few years ago, at a time when I was feeling very lonely at home and isolated in the community. My NDIS case worker arranged an introduction for me as part of my NDIS package. It has worked out well for me to be able to drop in there, a couple of days each week. Flourish Australia offer lots of activities, but it’s just being with the people there that I like the most. It lifts my spirits. We do lunch together, or I might join in a game of pool or just chill out in the TV lounge. There’s no pressure. I can just be there and enjoy the positive atmosphere, or be as involved as I want to be, depending on how I’m feeling. I’m not employed at the moment but I am an aspiring writer and I consider that to be my work. For the past six months I’ve been writing a sort of semi-autobiographical novel, in diary form. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a young boy. It has always made me happy to put my imagination down on paper that way and I dream of one day being recognised as a great writer. Flourish Australia encourages me to set goals and work toward them. I have a number of goals I want to accomplish; like establishing a soup kitchen, here in our suburb, so that anyone who is disadvantaged can come in for a nice meal when they need to. We have a professional chef at Flourish Australia, and it’s so comforting to come in and share a lovely meal with my friends, that I would like to find a way to give more people that feeling. Thanks to the support of Flourish Australia, I’ve found I get a lot of satisfaction out of maintaining my day-to-day responsibilities; like grocery shopping and caring for my canaries. One was a welcome gift from my neighbour when I first moved in to my place. I bought a mate for it and now I find so much joy in listening to the two of them and feeding them once or twice a day. Staying active in my local church community and regularly taking communion helps me to feel fulfilled too. It’s a Korean, Christian church, so it has meaning for me both spiritually and culturally. They give me a ride to and from church and after each service, we share in a nice Korean meal. That sort of inclusion, and courtesy are aspects of my Korean heritage that I value greatly and feel proud to be aligned with. Getting involved, in my church and Flourish Australia families, has taught me to be more open minded and generous. When I see my Peer Workers going out of their way to do such nice things to support other people, it makes me want to be more like that. Flourish Australia have done so much to improve the quality of my life and I’ve found that giving to others, the way they do, makes me a happier person too. Flourish Australia Peer Workers are more than support staff, they are my trusted companions. Since spending time with them, I’ve become more outgoing in reaching out to others in the community. When Flourish Australia staff first started coming to my place and talking to me, they were so understanding; so now if I see someone struggling, I greet them warmly. They are always so appreciative that I feel a lot of satisfaction knowing I’ve been able to brighten their day in a small way. They will still have their on-going challenges, but I know, from experience, how much the smallest gesture of kindness can mean to someone who is feeling low and alone

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