De­spite hard­ship, she helps others

Gatton Star - - NEWS - Meg Bolton [email protected]­ton­star.com.au

CHAR­MAINE Giles never thought she would be home­less, but af­ter fall­ing sick and los­ing her job it was a re­al­ity the 51-year-old has faced for the past year.

The Laidley mother of two worked as a traf­fic con­troller be­fore she was di­ag­nosed with Ross River virus in Fe­bru­ary 2016, caus­ing her to have time off work.

Be­fore she knew it, Ms Giles had used up all her sick leave, her job changed from per­ma­nent part-time to ca­sual, her money had run out and she was liv­ing on her friend’s couch.

“I was dev­as­tated, to tell you the truth, be­cause I lost my job, then I lost a friend who kicked us out,” she said.

“To end up here af­ter working so hard, you feel like you can’t do any­thing and they push you aside.”

With nowhere to go, Ms Giles ar­ranged for her son to stay at a friend’s place while she slept in her car.

“I never thought I’d end up in my car,” she said.

Al­most 170 peo­ple in the Lock­yer Valley re­gion iden­ti­fied as be­ing home­less in the last Cen­sus, and in July alone, 10 groups of peo­ple re­quired im­me­di­ate ac­com­mo­da­tion in Laidley.

Af­ter liv­ing rough for a week, Ms Giles was one of the for­tu­nate ones, with the Laidley Cri­sis Care and Ac­com­mo­da­tion Group pro­vid­ing a place for her and her son to live.

“The first day I walked in I just cried, it was just beau­ti­ful, it had ev­ery­thing, it’s got sheets, it’s got sham­poo,” she said.

De­spite still ex­pe­ri­enc­ing hard­ship, Ms Giles has been try­ing to leave the house to free space for others in need.

“I’m mov­ing in with my brother be­cause I know there are fam­i­lies that need this house, I’ve been try­ing to get out, I’m still on the hous­ing list but it takes time,” she said.

Ms Giles has been try­ing to get back on her feet for the past year, but un­able to find a full-time job, mov­ing on hasn’t been pos­si­ble.

“I’ve pretty much gone to ev­ery busi­ness in town and asked, and it’s not their fault and there are young kids com­ing out of high school, they need work as well,” she said.

Dur­ing the week Ms Giles vol­un­teers as a re­cep­tion­ist at her friend’s busi­ness and as­sists in the com­mu­nity gar­den which helps feed those ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness.

PHOTO: MEG BOLTON

SO GRATE­FUL: Char­maine Giles doesn’t know what she would do with­out the help of the Laidley Cri­sis Care and Ac­com­mo­da­tion group.

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