When you meet Kerry you are struck by her quiet dignity and determination. It is often only in hindsight that we realise how each step has shaped the overall journey of our life. Kerry’s story is about resolutions and choices… choosing to live a life with wholeness.
“In 2007 I moved from Sydney to Brisbane after my mother and sister agreed to let me move into their home as a landing platform. My aim was to get a job and move into my own place,” says Kerry. “I had a drinking problem, not out of control, but I knew I needed to address it,” she adds.
With the help of her local GP, Kerry was referred to the Alcohol & Drug Unit at the PA Hospital for assistance. “I also applied for public housing,” explains Kerry. “But they said at the moment they couldn’t help me because I was already in accommodation and not in a crisis situation.”
On 2 January 2012 Kerry’s mother and sister requested the police to evict her. “It almost crushed me,” says Kerry sombrely. “I felt completely lost and betrayed. It was like throwing a baby out in the middle of a highway.” Fortunately, Kerry reached out to her PA Hospital social worker who assisted her with temporarily leasing a unit in South Brisbane. “Back then I was suffering from agoraphobia, (the fear of open spaces),” recalls Kerry. “The unit was facing the William Jolly Bridge and people used to wave at me when they walked past, which didn’t help my anxiety.”
During this time, she experienced more pressure when her mother and sister mounted court actions against her. Kerry says she almost lost any faith in human nature at that point.
As fate would have it, Kerry’s life took a turn for the better. From her accommodation in South Brisbane, Kerry noticed another building going up across the lane. She was curious and mentioned it to her PA Hospital social worker. Further investigations revealed the building under construction was Brisbane Common Ground, the Queensland Government’s first supportive housing initiative.
“It was exactly what I needed,” says Kerry. “My social worker said ‘This will be great, let’s get you in there. Brisbane Common Ground also includes Micah Projects who supports communities with assistance to resolve homelessness, isolation and associated health issues. You don’t need any more negativity. You’ll get back on your feet and return to the workforce’.”
Her social worker booked an appointment over the phone and Kerry went to the Housing Service Centre in the Valley and lodged an application that day.
“On the 10th September 2012 I received a call on my birthday from Andy Johnson of Micah Projects to let me know that I was being offered a unit to lease in Brisbane Common Ground,” says Kerry. “On the 11th September at 9.30am I signed the lease, borrowed their trolley and moved my belongings across the lane way and set up my own home. That was the best birthday present I’d ever received!”
But the story doesn’t end there. In 2014 Kerry was thrown another curve ball when she suffered renal failure and was told that it was terminal. The cooperation and communications between Common Ground Queensland and Micah Projects produced a major network of support and assistance. Kerry says she worked closely with the on-site nurse (now the Manager of the Inclusive Health Clinic), Micah Projects team, her GP (who she refers to as her Guidance Professional) and Common Ground Queensland who ALL monitored and stabilised her living and access arrangements to provide her with comfort and safety within her own home. “When you are presented with a prognosis of terminal, you gladly accept any assistance from those you trust who offer reliable support and encouragement,” reveals Kerry.
The journey back to wellness took time, commitment and unlimited support. In 2017 Kerry and her support team received consistent reports revealing a clean bill of health. “In 10 years my life turned around,” affirms Kerry. “I have been through many life changing experiences; this one is a success story not just for me but for everyone who was involved with me during the past six years and my future journey. I’m happy within myself and I’ve gained inspiration to reboot and succeed in my career aspirations!” Kerry is already actively volunteering where she enjoys connecting with and working amongst the local community.
Kerry attributes her ‘second chance’ to a combination of positive attitudes that provided encouragement and restored her confidence in humanity. “The dedicated efforts of medical advancements, dietary modifications and sobriety allowed my body to mend,” Kerry states with conviction. Despite being out of the danger zone, Kerry is very committed to continuing on her path of wellness. To maintain her health, she routinely utilises the on-site Inclusive Health Clinic alternative therapies such as yoga and acupuncture twice weekly and the podiatrist monthly. “The Masseuse also planned my Mindful Muscle routine,” she adds.
At 58 years of age Kerry’s new view on life is clearly positive as she talks about her current and future aspirations. “I’m completing a Certificate III in Business Administration with an aim to secure a position as a Corporate Receptionist. I’m learning different software programs to enhance my skills. My objectives as a trouble-shooter are to identify problems and offer suggestions and ideas for solutions,” she says matter-of-factly.
“Brisbane Common Ground is a place where ongoing encouragement ensures HOPE is alive! It’s a place where people can regain confidence and embrace life. Previously I couldn’t say I was grateful or felt proud, now I can say ‘I am proudly grateful’. I enjoy my surroundings and with assistance from the Common Ground Queensland and Micah Projects Teams I’ve been able to created a life and a place where I truly love to call home!'