ABOVE: Mental Health Worker Sabrina Loiseaux PHOTO BY CIARAN MAHONY (TEAM LEADER HASI)
By Sabrina Loiseaux
I’ve been employed as a Mental Health Worker at Flourish Australia’s Marrickville service for over a year now, but I’ve been with the organisation since 2013. I work with the people who access Marrickville’s HASI (Housing Accommodation and Support Initiative) program, a service tailored towards people with a history of mental health issues, particularly those who may need a little more support.
How we can help
The HASI program assists people to lead a life that they feel is meaningful. A person might require support accessing open employment, returning to studies, connecting with their local community, or improving their living skills. The exact goals and details always differ from person to person, but whatever they want to achieve, the HASI program can help. For instance, we could support somebody to establish themselves in their local community by linking them up with groups that match their interests, and we’ve been implementing a lot of different groups to build on a variety of essential skills. We can even assist individuals in applying for NDIS support to ensure the NDIA supplies them with an appropriate support package that meets their particular needs.
The power is yours
Everyone who accesses the HASI program keeps track of their goals with a tailored Individual Recovery Plan that reminds them of what they’re working towards. We constantly update and refer to the IRPs to make sure the participants have a voice, a choice and control over what they want and need from life. They tell us what they need, not the other way around!
“It’s easy to focus on the bad times, and this can blind you from the good stuff.”
We are here, I guess, to foster and enhance their sense of hope, to help them identify their strengths and wants in life. Sometimes it is difficult for the people we work with to recognise their past achievements, but we do all we can to help them identify what worked for them before and where they would like to head in the future.
Strength in numbers
As mental health issues can potentially be very isolating, we also support people with their social lives. We provide opportunities to exercise their social skills with group activities where they can go out and do fun things together. I’m particularly pleased with how the Tuesday community café group at Glebe is going, as it’s become a place where people are enthusiastic in establishing new relationships. It’s an opportunity to share their journeys and current difficulties with people who deal with the same kinds of struggles. For them, it’s become a beautiful way not to feel so isolated. We have different groups running most of the week, like the fishing group on Mondays, visiting The Pantry on Wednesdays, Thursday is Cooking class, Art groups are on Saturdays, and finally the Womens’ group and Coffee Club on Sunday.
We’re sure to spice up our routine with special events. Just yesterday, instead of attending the community café we visited West Side Chapel in Kings Cross. It’s such a vibrant and colourful place and everybody made us feel very welcome. West Side Chapel is run by lots of volunteers who are happy to answer questions, and they even provided us with a free lunch. The feedback from the group was very positive, especially when it came to how welcome they felt. Most of the group wants to go back and visit on a regular basis.
Sharing the load
Sometimes we can face situations that are quite difficult. For instance, someone might be experiencing financial hardship, and they might not have enough food in the fridge. In such situations we would help them to create connections with services that provide free meals. We could also support individuals to develop their budgeting skills. We want to make sure that whenever we aren’t available to lend a hand that the people we support can access the resources they need that are available in the community.
Does this interest you?
To access our HASI service you need to be receiving support from NSW Health. We partner with NSW Housing to support people to maintain their housing.
We run HASI from 8 in the morning until 8 at night, 7 days per week.
6a Rich Street, Marrickville, NSW 2204
(02) 9393 9382
Weekdays 8am to 4pm