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20 May 2021
Before Margaret* became homeless, she lived a happy life with her daughter, who meant the world to her. Tragically, Margaret’s relationship with her partner turned violent and her life took a terrible turn. Seven years ago, Margaret was beaten so badly by the man she loved that it left her with brain damage and memory loss. Fearing for her life after the attack, Margaret had no choice but to escape and flee her home with nothing, leaving behind the daughter she loved.
In those seven years, Margaret lived on the streets and in a tent. Her badly affected memory meant she couldn’t remember where her daughter lived or how to contact her. During all that time, her daughter had been desperately searching for her too.
The Salvos met Margaret when a park ranger found her tent in a city park, damaged by an overnight storm. Margaret, an elderly lady, emerged from the tent, somehow uninjured. The pain of all she suffered was written across her face.
The park ranger contacted the Salvos, who quickly arranged a hot meal and immediate care for Margaret. The team then hunted down phone numbers until they found Margaret’s daughter. When mum and daughter talked, there were tears, especially when Margaret learned she had grandchildren she’d never seen.
The Salvos team packed Margaret’s few belongings into a van, along with late Christmas presents for the grandchildren, then drove Margaret three hours to the country town where her family lived. Reunited, Margaret is no longer homeless and no longer alone.
This true story of transformation is one of many that Salvos personnel and officers are all too familiar with. Last year, 290,000 people experiencing homelessness received support and our staff played a role in meeting many of those people at their point of need.
*Not her real name. The women in the photos on this page are actors.
** To be one of the thousands of Australians who help or donate to the Salvos each year, visit digitaldoorknock.salvationarmy.org.au