Last year Teresa, a dedicated parishioner at the All Saints Catholic Church in Liverpool and single mother to a daughter who has a disability, recalls experiencing some of her greatest challenges in life. While she felt comforted knowing she could speak to her priest who kindly devoted time to listen and support her, she knew she needed more help to get through.
One day at church, Juliette, a Community Care Worker from CatholicCare, came and spoke about a new social support program that is based within the parish and available to anyone in the community who may need help finding help for personal issues. After the service Teresa approached Juliette to ask for a session and her healing journey began.
CatholicCare’s new Communities of Care program places a community care worker directly in the parish to provide practical support, not just for parishioners, but for the whole community. When dealing with stressful situations, people often don’t know where to turn for help and sometimes prefer to speak in person.
“I got so depressed during COVID last year, I couldn’t do anything and I was hospitalised. I found I could talk to Juliette about everything, and she listened really well.”
Communities of Care aims to make the parish a place not just of worship and spiritual healing, but also a haven where people can receive practical support and guidance during tough times.
CatholicCare Community Care Worker, Juliette, said since the program launched in 2019 she has found that for most people emotional support is their greatest need.
“Throughout the last year I’ve found people in the community are most commonly experiencing various forms of distress due to increased isolation and financial hardship. In the COVID environment, there has been so much uncertainty, and many are worried about their financial security,” said Juliette.
“When I first met Teresa, she was struggling with these issues, as well as some other personal problems.”
In Teresa’s first session with Juliette, she explained her situation and why she was seeking help. Teresa shares this with us here.
“I had just broken up with my boyfriend and wanted to talk to Juliette because I was struggling with how I was feeling about it. I was also sad and confused, and I didn’t know what to do.
“But she helped me to focus more on myself, helped me to work on my self-confidence and plan for the future.
“I feel so much happier now. I can get on with life and do what I have to do!
“I liked the way she counselled me. She was different from all other counsellors I’ve had. She was more engaged and had really good advice,” said Teresa.
In order for Juliette to help people find the most practical solutions for their problems, she takes time to get to know each individual and understand their situation so she can find the most relevant support to enable them to move forward in their lives. The range of support is broad. For example, they may have been experiencing financial or health-related problems, been in a domestic violence situation, or were having communication issues due to English being their second language. There is also assistance for seniors, who need help navigating the government’s My Aged Care system and who are looking to access home care support services.
CatholicCare’s Communities of Care is currently operating in Fairfield, Liverpool, and is expanding to the North Ryde, Ryde and Gladesville areas, with the aim of offering this support in conjunction with other parishes right across Sydney in the near future.