By Bo from Tamworth
I’ve always enjoyed cars and wanted to work in the vehicle industry, but in 2003, I became unwell. I found it hard to concentrate and my memory was poor. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
It was in 2004, I became aware of Flourish Australia (then known as RichmondPRA) through HASI (Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative) in Tamworth.
I’d been homeless for a while and Terry from MINOA (Men in Need of Accommodation) signed me up. It meant I could be off the street, and in a clean, warm bed. This meant everything to me.
I’ve made quite a few friends, and had a few challenges along the way. One big challenge has been the staff at Flourish Australia understanding me and my needs, and me trusting them. We worked through this by getting together and trying to solve problems by talking and going out for lunch – I started to feel better.
Once we got through that, they supported me by getting me involved in activities with other people. They also support me in the HASI program. I started to enjoy being around other people, plus support workers also talked with me about strategies that could help me deal with issues. This particularly helped when I was sick and in Banksia Mental Health Unit.
When I was young I moved from Tamworth to Queensland and then back to Tamworth. I wanted to be a spray painter or a panel beater, and I’m still interested in those industries.
What I’m really happy about now is going to work each week at Tamworth City Toyota. I wash cars there on Thursday, and then I’m at Tamworth City Prestige on Fridays. I’m now hoping I can get the profession I wanted – maybe car detailing is the next step.
After a few months at Toyota, I’m just starting to feel good about it all. It’s really great to feel valued, and being paid each week is just that – I can even buy things that I couldn’t before.
Rachael at Best Employment (a community based disability employment service in Tamworth), and Deslee at Flourish Australia have really helped me to gain a sense of achievement. Those are feelings I haven’t felt for a long time.
During this time, I’ve learnt to be patient with people who are supporting me. I am learning about being responsible for what I do. My ultimate goal is to one day be fully independent and graduate from the HASI General program.
As told to Evonne Geluk
Photo By Jim Booth