A lot can change in a few months—as Bernadette Bradd knows only too well.
In late 2013, a painful back condition forced 39-year-old Bernadette out of full-time work.
In May this year, as the unpaid bills piled up, Bernadette moved out of her home and onto the streets. “Paying rent and meeting other expenses was impossible. I moved out because I didn’t want a black mark against my name or I’d never be able to get housing again,” says Bernadette.
“I don’t have any family here and only a handful of friends, who have their own families to look
Bernadette had nowhere else to go.
Even the local caravan parks cost $160 a week, so Bernadette spent the next three months living on
the streets. During the day she would look for a safe place to spend the night and travel more than half an hour to use public showers. At night she’d bunker down in her car or tent with her two dogs.
“I’ll never forget my first night on the streets—it poured with rain and I didn’t know how to set up my swag, so I squeezed myself in the car which was no good for my back,” she says.
A few months later, a chance encounter led Bernadette to The Salvation Army. Soon after, Bernadette
moved into the transition unit she now calls home.
“The unit is the best thing—it’s warm and safe, and there’s a yard so I can have my dogs with me. I
thank God every day for having a roof over my head.”
Bernadette describes the Salvos as ‘the support she can’t get from her family.’ Her case worker Emma accompanies her to doctor’s appointments, and has assisted with fitting medical aids in her
unit, which makes it easier to live with her back condition. Bernadette also shares in community meals run by The Salvation Army twice a week. “The home-cooked meal with friends is the highlight
of my week,” she says.
“The Salvation Army showed love to me when I felt so unloved by society. They gave me hope and a future. They are there to get you through whatever it is you’re going through,” says Bernadette.
Bernadette’s case manager Emma says Bernadette’s experience was devastating but not uncommon. “Her story shows how quickly you can go from working in the community to living on the streets. A few months without a pay cheque and anyone could end up in Bernadette’s position.”