When Esera opened his home to a man who had no place to stay, he also had his eyes opened to the many people in our community who are experiencing homelessness. As he explains:
“I brought this man down to Visionwest so he could get some food and, when I saw all that Visionwest were doing to support others, I thought I’d love to be involved in some way. When I mentioned this to someone at Visionwest, they invited me down for an interview. Four years later, I’ve completed a degree in Social Services, I’m doing my Masters in Welfare Study and I work as a Support Navigator for Visionwest Housing.”
Esera works in the Visionwest Supportive Housing team who not only work to get whānau into a home, but also support their needs on an ongoing basis so they have the opportunity to build a better life.
Support provided can be in terms of emotional and mental wellbeing, or practical help with things like finances, food support or help to get back into the workforce. Every day Esera makes home visits to the whānau who Visionwest has housed, as he explains:
“I could be taking someone to a hospital appointment or helping someone who has no transport with their shopping. I could be going to see someone because there’s been some incident at their home or helping them to handle issues in their life that they need support with such as drug addiction, a counselling need, or a need for food support.
One thing most our client whānau have in common is that they see us as their lifeline to greater support and, therefore, a better life.”
The work can be hard as client whānau face many ups and downs but as Esera explains:
“The reward is seeing a life changed from addiction, long term unemployment, chronic health problems, debt challenges or any one of a number of issues, to a person who is in the community with better health, better life choices, better outcomes; people who are now actively connected with whānau, church, and community.”