WelCom October 2017: For Dame Therese Walsh DNZM, the decision to become the Ambassador for the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust was an easy one.
Having seen how the Trust successfully transforms the lives of homeless women so they can get their lives back on track, start again and plan for the future, Dame Therese knew she wanted to be involved.
‘I was amazed when I learnt how many homeless women there were in Wellington. We all have the right to a safe, warm, and happy home. That’s exactly where the Trust fits in. It helps women over 12 weeks to turn their lives around and access the basics that many of us take for granted,’ says Dame Therese.
Since the Trust opened in July 2013, almost 100 women have passed through its doors with around half supported into permanent housing.
The experiences the women bring are varied. Some women come with just the plastic bags they carry, without ID and with different levels of physical and mental-health needs. They may not be registered with a GP or other services to support their individual needs and in most cases, are exhausted from constant moving and insecurity.
Some have overwhelming legal issues and no resources to communicate with relevant government agencies so that they can be accepted in long-term housing. Others have been ‘sleeping rough’ or are reliant on others who aren’t safe.
The women come from all sorts of situations, whether it be an abusive relationship, prison, or just a period of hardship. But for all the women when they arrive the bright, and comfortable rooms are a welcome sight. The premises offer a safe, home-like environment with kitchen and laundry facilities to encourage communal living and personal healing.
The Trust employs a House Manager, a Relief House Manager, and Support Workers to support the women during their stay. The Trust relies on generous donations and grants to help it continue its worthwhile work. Every little bit counts. Visit www.homeless.org.nz to offer support or for more information.
In 2013, Dame Therese Walsh was named the inaugural supreme winner of the Women of Influence Awards and was awarded a Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Award in 2014. She became a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in June 2015 for services to sports administration, in organising two of the biggest sporting events hosted by New Zealand. She was the chief operating officer for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and the head of the New Zealand organising committee for the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Dame Therese is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, an independent director and also sits on a number of government panels.