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Winter Appeal

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 “Every night, as darkness fell and the cold closed in around me, I would be gripped with fear. Those winter nights were so cold, I shiver just thinking about it. Sometimes I thought I might die in my sleep.” - Francesca*

Winter is closing in. The temperature has dropped sharply and the nights are icy. It’s been the coldest start to winter in South Australia for 35 years

Please donate today to provide warm meals, a hot shower and a welcoming, safe space for Adelaide’s homeless this winter.

For people like Francesca, winter can be terrifying.

But our Winter Appeal is your chance to help people like Francesca.

Your support will mean so much to people like her who have lost all hope. It will provide a warm shower and a hot breakfast, kindness, a friendly welcome, a safe space - and a chance to rebuild their life.

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For every person facing homelessness, there is a story of heartbreak. There are hundreds of South Australians sleeping out in the depths of winter, because the world around them turned cold. 

They had jobs, families, a home and a place in the world. Now, warmth, love and purpose are gone from their lives, leaving only loneliness and despair. 

It may have been a sudden redundancy, a critically ill partner, domestic violence or the loss of a child. For many reasons, people experiencing homelessness have been forced into shocking, frightening circumstances. 

They have nowhere to go. No hope. Literally, left out in the cold – and Francesca’s story is no different. 

As a teenager, the power of music transported Francesca to dizzying heights. An accomplished flautist, she won scholarships, travelled overseas with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and won a ‘Young Performer of the Year’ award. Francesca was confident, happy and independent. She was secure and safe. She was offered a Flautist position in the London Symphony Orchestra. Life was full of promise and opportunity.

Then, everything fell apart.

In London, Francesca suffered a violent attack by her partner at the time. She was young, in a new city, and faced ongoing violence with no support network. It was the beginning of a devastating downward spiral.

She managed to escape from the violent relationship and return home. She continued performing and won a place in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. But as Francesca says, “there was a lot of darkness in my life.” Her experience in London left her fragile and unfortunately, led to another violent relationship after coming home to Adelaide. 

This time, escape was much more difficult. She was able to leave, but not without injury. One especially bad incident with her ex-partner left her with severe lacerations in her foot. Her injury cut a major nerve, which froze movement and now causes ongoing chronic pain and depression.

Then, unbelievably, her life took another tragic turn. She was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Francesca faced this cancer diagnosis alone, without friends and family.

Her recovery was long and traumatic. She endured a double mastectomy and suffered from depression again. She was in and out of hospital and on heavy medication.

“I ended up squatting in an old, un-renovated house. I had no support from family or friends. I was totally alone.

“Every night, as darkness fell and the cold closed in around me, I would be gripped with fear. Those winter nights were so cold, I shiver just thinking about it. Sometimes I thought I might die in my sleep. And didn’t really care if I did. I was already thinking about ending my life”.

It was then, at the lowest point in her life, that a friend told her about Hutt St Centre. That’s when Francesca arrived on the cold doorstep at Hutt St Centre last winter. So desperate, she wanted to end her life. So cold, she was in serious danger.

At Hutt St Centre, we aim to end homelessness for every person who walks through our doors, with care and without judgement. It’s the crucial first step to ending homelessness – and it’s where your donation today will change the life of a person like Francesca.

When Francesca came to us, she simply wanted a shower. She was surprised at the warm welcome she received and the many different services she was able to access at Hutt St Centre – all of which are made possible thanks to you.

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Francesca remembers clearly how Hutt St Centre, and your support, changed her life:

“Before I found Hutt St I would lay at night for hours and hours in the dark and the cold, feeling helpless. The cold made the pain in my leg even more excruciating. I had never felt so completely alone.

I would stare into the darkness that was my life and remember, with horror, the day I heard my breast cancer diagnosis, and the mastectomy that left me physically and mentally scarred. I would look around that bare, squalid house, my body aching and numb with cold. All I wanted was to be warm again. To feel something other than pain.”

It was only when I found Hutt St Centre that warmth came back into my life. And it wasn’t just a warm shower after a freezing night, and a filling hot breakfast. It was the smiles, acceptance and understanding. I felt like a real person again. A whole person.”

Every day, with your support, we provide people like Francesca with the chance to build a better life for themselves. 

Please donate today to provide warm meals, a hot shower and a welcoming, safe space for Adelaide’s homeless this winter.

Ian Cox
Chief Executive Officer

*Names have been changed out of respect for the person who has generously shared their story. Photos of Francesca, with kind thanks to DreamTeamImaging, have been taken to maintain Francesca’s privacy at her request.

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