Blake’s housing story with Visionwest began when he saw his lifestyle reflected in the hurt on the faces of his children and saw how the way he lived was affecting their behaviour and health, he knew something needed to change.
For such a long time I thought my life was going okay but now that I look back it was chaos; it was pretty hard on my family. It was hard on me too. When you are in trouble, you are constantly on edge. It impacted my family relationships, my kids, and my mental and physical health.
That’s how I ended up in this city. I had to get away from my old life, so I came here. I guess I was on the run.
Blake was born and raised in the East Coast town of Opotiki. He left school early and admits to immediately falling into trouble. Then he turned to the Christian faith.
Some of the other members of the group I hung out with laughed at me, but I could see there was life and peace and joy in my new faith and those were all things I needed. Through all I’ve been through since, I’ve always kept that faith and trusted in God.
Blake’s housing story began with one vital decision
Once Blake made the decision to sort his life out, he became more proactive in making the positive changes needed to get back on track.
My parents looked after my kids so I could sort myself out. On arriving in Christchurch, I heard about Visionwest Community Housing and thought I could play the system like I had all my life, but I didn’t reckon on meeting Tiaki [Visionwest Canterbury Kaiārahi Tikanga] – he had my measure from day one. I could see straightaway that if I was going to get on here, I had to be true to my decision and to my commitment to my family and to turning my life around.
As I got to know Tiaki I started to see someone who actually had faith in me and believed that I could move forward. It eventually got to a point where I simply couldn’t go back because I would have felt so bad about disappointing someone who was actually taking time out every week to spend with me and help me out.
Through all his experiences, Blake doted on his children and had a close bond with them. It was the loyalty that his children showed to him that had a huge effect on his life. As he saw the negative effect his life was having on them, he realised he needed to show loyalty to them and help them change direction in their lives before it was too late.
Having a Visionwest house means Blake and his whānau have a place to call home. It’s given them stability and brought unity … it’s enabled them to become a family unit.
It’s awesome that we can all go about our day knowing that we’ve got somewhere safe to come home to; somewhere to call home with warmth and with food in the cupboards; somewhere where we can be together.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Blake, however. Transitioning to a new life has been tough.
It’s not an easy journey. People say, ‘If you want to change, you can change.’ It’s not that simple. Addiction is a severe illness that grabs you and changes you and makes it real tough to change back. To come out of that is a real milestone, perhaps the biggest achievement of my life.
When asked about his old life, Blake admits to having some good memories of good times and good friends, but he doesn’t miss those times and says that, although he is the most broke he’s ever been, he’s also the happiest.
Every week needs to be better than the one before because I want to show all those people who are helping me that I’m really working to change and to do the right things. A big thing for me in transitioning into this new life is to find things to do with my children that will bring us together as a family and take my mind off my past life.
Recently we went for a diving activity as a family. We got paua and had a great day together. My two goals now are to find a permanent home here in Christchurch and to know the stability of having a permanent house for my family, everything else will take shape around those things.
I want to say a big thank you to Visionwest for all that they have done for me. They have given us a roof over our heads, food packs and other support. And Tiaki has come to see me every week. Those visits and the Visionwest support are what keeps me true to where I’m going.
Want to read another inspiration story about Visionwest Community Housing? Here’s Walter’s Housing Story.
Click here to find out more about Visionwest Community Housing in Auckland and Canterbury.