The quiet in the ASC’s main hall is broken as volunteer Alice starts to pull sewing machines, fabric and yarn… Read More
Providence House, a four-unit apartment block in the inner west of Sydney, has been a home for more than one hundred people seeking asylum in the past seven years.
In 2015, to celebrate 175 years of the Sisters of Charity being in Australia, the Sisters of Charity Foundation purchased and renovated four residential apartments for the Asylum Seekers Centre to use as emergency housing. Since then, the Providence House program has provided short-to-medium term stable housing for families and single women who are at risk of homelessness, while they wait for the government to assess their protection visas.
While they live in limbo with the stress of waiting for their claims for protection to be assessed, the certainty of reliable housing allows people to find work, do training and save for their bond and rent deposit without the worry of unstable housing.
The provision of stable housing for people seeking asylum has been especially essential in the past two years. While employment has been insecure and the community has been asked to stay home and isolate, there have been many barriers for people seeking asylum to being safe and staying healthy.
This year the partnership with Sisters of Charity Foundation was expanded by the addition of a new property in the west of Sydney which is suitable for a larger family group.
At Providence House this year we celebrated a high number of people moving to independent housing, and every person who has left the house has stable employment. This has enabled us to match available units to new families and provide them the opportunity for stability.
As always, the housing units are occupied by people from a wide range of places across the world. This is representative of the more than 90 countries represented within the ASC community. At this time there are people from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, South America and the Pacific.
While they are living in this housing, the team at the Asylum Seekers Centre continue to work with people to help them access training opportunities, prepare for work and stabilise their mental and physical health. Residents can visit the ASC for hot community lunches and attend English classes and recreation activities such as sewing, music, sport and school holiday programs. Social isolation is also improved by being at Providence House. Many friendships are made at the house.
“It was very helpful for my family… It was a very long time and the accommodation was very helpful. I didn’t have any jobs for 4 or 5 months, my financial situation was very hard, and with the assistance of my caseworker and the Employment Service I was able to find a job. I am doing great now, my kids are going to school and I am interested in doing a…course to move to a full time job.”
– a woman who lived at Providence House
The ASC is incredibly grateful to the Sisters of Charity Foundation for the opportunities that come from being able to offer someone a home for a short while. Saving a family from homelessness can be the springboard to a brighter future.