Back on his feet and inspiring others to seek help
Rick wants to inspire others and use his experience to help those going through tough times.
“I really feel, after what I went through, that there is a positive way out. I have learnt that it’s important to ask for help and that there’s places out there that will help. And when you know where to get help, it makes a difference.
Unison’s Private Rental Access Program (PRAP) is one of those places that provided Rick with help.
With funding from the State Government, Unison’s PRAP supports people to secure or maintain private rental accommodation through information, advocacy, outreach support and limited brokerage assistance.
It’s a sunny afternoon in Melbourne, when we catch up with Rick over the phone. We’re in what seems the longest lockdown yet. Like many of us, Rick has already spent well over 200 days in lockdown.
After losing everything in the Townsville floods, two and a half years ago, Rick moved down to Melbourne, to be closer to his sons. He had a full-time job in an engineering company and a secure home.
Then, COVID hit. What was once secure, wasn’t anymore. First, he lost his job and then a furniture-making business. The business was dependent on weekend market sales, and markets had to close as part of COVID restrictions. Rick worked in two more jobs that ended due to further lockdowns. He couldn’t get a break, but despite his misfortune Rick tried to pay as much rent as he could, leaving him with very little to live off.
Things were becoming unmanageable, both financially and mentally.
“It was lockdown after lockdown after lockdown,” explains Rick. “Rent was creeping up. I took money out of my super to catch up with bills and rent.
“Everything spiralled out of control and I got behind in rent, I got behind in bills, I got behind in everything.
“It got to a point where I had exhausted all options. I was in a bad place.
“Not knowing where to get proper support was hard. I kept being referred from one place to the next, without actually getting any help. I was sick of going through it all again and again.”
It was just too much and Rick ended up spending two weeks in hospital.
Rick was put in contact with Unison’s homelessness services and our PRAP team worked closely with Rick’s agent, who agreed to reduce Rick’s rent.
Thanks to PRAP, Unison also managed to assist him in sustaining his tenancy by clearing his arrears and providing relief for the month forward while he seeks employment again.
With the financial side of things sorted for now, Rick has been able to focus on his mental health, and is feeling positive again.
“I’ve had depression for many years; and it’s just been one thing after the next in the past three years. It’s hard, but there is a way out. There are places out there that will help you.”
“I really want to thank everyone who assisted me.” Rick is grateful for the support he received and wants to use his experience to support others doing it tough.
“I have built a lot of handy skills over the many jobs I have had. But now, I’m starting to think that I want to help people in the same circumstances, providing support to them. Telling them that there is a way out.
“That’s my way of giving back.”
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