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Don - Finally at a good place in my life with a strong support network

I felt at home the first moment I wandered into Flourish Australia’s Newcastle day-to-day living centre seven years ago and they helped me into a happy place of my own.

Crippling anxiety and the rising cost of rentals had led to me living in my van feeling depressed and stressed. I’m so grateful to Flourish Australia for helping me into a home of my own within a couple of months and becoming the family I never had.

The day I walked into their drop-in centre, the Manager came right up and welcomed me to be part of the groups, day programs, outings and hot meals on offer. I was invited to join in a game of pool by some of the people accessing services that day and could see myself fitting in well. I live with Asperger’s and struggle with social skills so it was powerful for me to connect so easily with others at a time in my life when I was very isolated. We each have our own lived experience so we really ‘get’ each other.

Sometimes I’ll visit just to sit and chat for an hour, or I can stay for six. That’s the beauty of the drop-in service. When anyone seems down, the rest of us check if they’re ok and that mutual support makes us feel we belong to a friendly little village. It gives me a sense of accomplishment now to make newcomers feel welcomed because I appreciate how meaningful it was for me when I most needed it.

For a long time, I tried to run from my mental health issues but it doesn’t work. With the right support, including finding medications that work for me, I’ve been stable for years and enjoy my life more.

One of the Support Workers got me into playing guitar and I really enjoy our members’ band which is open to anyone who can sing or play. There’s an art room with plenty of high quality supplies where I can apply what I learned at art school to create 3D art installations by recycling old records or decorating mannequins to turn them into something beautiful.

When the NDIS rolled out, applying for funding with the guidance of Flourish Australia simplified the whole process. I now use my package toward the group activities and one-on-one support I access 2 to 4 days each week. They get me out of my house for a walk or drive which was so important during lockdowns.

It’s taken me most of my life to come to a place where I feel grounded and settled. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been and in a really good place in my life thanks to the great support network I have around me.

627 Hunter Street Newcastle NSW 2300

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