I am an addict. I am in the midst of a psychotic break. I am homeless; my son has been out of my care for 6 months. I am 28 years old. I am dying…

My name is Ainsley, I am 43 years old, and it is time to share part of my story so others can be helped as my son and I were. It is time to give back.

In desperate need of housing, my son and I were offered accommodation at Home & Family’s residential home. I turned up on their doorstep child in hand, completely destitute and broken. That first door that was opened to me was to open many more doors along my journey with Home & Family. Had I known that my walls were to give way to my truth, I may have run. Knowing I was going to have to face my demons would have petrified me. But eventually facing them has set me free.

Home & Family not only offered my son and I a roof over our heads, they offered me the opportunity to face my addictions, to understand my mental illness, to face my demons in a safe supported environment; but ultimately they gave me the belief that, yes I am a loving caring mother who loves her son unconditionally and would do anything to protect him. That was the best gift anyone could give me.

Today my 19 year old son is an amazingly balanced and beautiful young man. A testament not only to my care, love and protection for him, but also a reflection of Home & Family’s commitment to not let us slip through the cracks in a fractured system. The rest of my son’s experience is his to share when he is ready.

It is very clear to me without Home & Family’s support 15 years ago and their staying in my life over the last decade as I needed additional support along the way, I would not be the woman I am today: sharing with you my survival story. For that is what this is – a story of survival, a story of a woman found, a story of a mother who was given the chance to be the mother her son could be proud of, a mother who has battled her demons and won. A mother who just is.

These days a sunrise is a mesmerising beauty, a sign of life, as opposed to an alarm clock telling me I’ve survived another day.

I don’t want this to simply be a plea for funding. It is more about the community having an awareness of the vulnerability of mothers, fathers and children within our society. Those that need the help and support to change and to break the cycle of abuse and neglect that many of Home & Family’s clients have unfortunately experienced themselves throughout their own childhoods. Home & Family supports parents to make safe and positive changes and rely on funding and donations to continue this much needed service. If Home & Family had not been available 15 years ago to support me and my son I truly believe I would not be standing here before you sharing my journey.

My name is Ainsley. I am alive. I survived. I won. My son won. I am giving back.