Toni-Anne was living in the Hawke’s Bay when she was diagnosed with cancer. With no local oncology facility able to provide treatment, her only option was to move to Auckland. She wouldn’t have survived otherwise.
That move saw Toni-Anne having to give up everything she had to live in a city where she had no family or friends.
“I couldn’t afford market rent and so I ended up living in emergency hotel accommodation in West Auckland. There were 90 otherwise homeless people crammed in there – solo mum’s, gang members, people just out of jail, and several who had medical needs like I did. Every minute of the time I was there, I felt unsafe.”
Toni-Anne’s life changed with an unexpected knock on her hotel door. Realising there were people there who needed permanent accommodation, Support Navigators from Visionwest Community Housing were asking occupants if they would like a Visionwest house.
“I’d never heard of Visionwest until that day, but I never hesitated to say ‘yes.’ It was the best decision I ever made. Visionwest are so good. They have everything I need, like a foodbank, budgeting, and housing.”
When asked about the difference Visionwest has made in her life, Toni-Anne speaks of every aspect of her wellbeing being touched and how she is different emotionally, physically, and practically because of the way she has been looked after.
“Without support from Visionwest, I’m pretty certain I’d still be in a hotel. The cost of housing would take every dollar I have. Some of the people I lived with in the hotel are still bouncing around different lodges and emergency hotels.
“I saw the depth of Visionwest’s aroha when my sister died. I was emotionally shattered, but every day I would get a phone call or a visit. Covid is a challenge for me also. My illness means I’m immunocompromised but the team at Visionwest understand that and look out for me.”
“One thing I never hesitate to do, if I see someone in need, I point them in the direction of Visionwest so they can experience the same lifechanging support that I’ve experienced.”