Jo Pattimore is following the steps to becoming the mum she wants to be.
My family migrated to Australia in 1988 from Wales, in the UK, when I was 13 years old. This was a really difficult time for me as I found it hard to settle and make new friends. I stopped going to church when we left the UK.
We travelled around Australia, which was really exciting, and I was extremely lucky to see a lot of the countryside. We ended up settling in Adelaide when I was 15. I went to a new high school, and again I found it difficult to make new friends.
A few months after moving there I had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with depression. Over the next few years I was in and out of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
I started to experiment with alcohol and drugs before I was 18, and they became my life and who I thought I was. This went on for many years while I tried to function in my daily life. After about 15 years I started to see my life falling down around me. My marriage eventually broke down and when it ended in divorce, causing the sale of our house, I really hit the drugs hard.
During this time I had my first contact with The Salvation Army and took part in their Towards Independence program. I was living on the street and ended up in a sobering-up unit—that was certainly an eye-opening experience for me. From there I went to live in a place called the stabilisation unit and started to clean up my act. This was followed by living in a rehabilitation program for some time and I managed to remain clean and sober for 18 months.
Around this time I met my, the father of my children, and it wasn’t long before we were taking drugs recreationally, and, once again, I rapidly spiralled out of control.
In 2008 my first son was born. I was excited and scared—could I be a good mum with my background and history?
That was when I thought I would step out of my comfort zone and go for it, so when my son was about a year old I went along to the Busy Bee playgroup at our local Salvation Army. Here I met the leader of the playgroup who became my main support. We started to build rapport over time, which turned out to be fantastic. She asked me if I wanted the church to pray for me and my family, to which I said, ‘Yes’.
In 2010, my second son was born and six weeks later I asked my partner to leave due to the domestic violence I was experiencing. I finally asked for help and was told about The Salvation Army’s Doorways program, which provides a range of supports to address immediate crisis needs of people who access Salvo emergency relief sites.
I really struggled with the fact that I was going to be a single mother of two very young boys and it wasn’t long before I was using drugs on a daily basis again.
In May 2012, I voluntarily handed care of my boys to the Department of Families and Community Services and, fortunately for me, my mum was able to look after them while I focused on my recovery.
I am now eight months clean and sober. All during this time my point of contact in The Salvation Army has been a massive support to me. I am forever grateful to my support person —through her I was able to see there are good people out in the community and that with a little faith, hope and prayer, life can and does get better.