Hard work and determination pays off
A quiet man with endless stories to share, Barry has worked hard over many years to manage anxiety that prevented him from leaving his house.
“I grew up in housing trust places as a kid,” Barry says. “There were six kids, so we never had much of anything. I was agoraphobic for about 40 years – I would get anxiety and panic attacks – so I collected stuff as a way of dealing with it.”
Barry has lived in his Unity Housing property since 1994, which was previously managed by the Mile End Housing Cooperative. With the help of his previous Housing Officer Karen, Barry was connected with OARS Community Transitions who supported Barry to declutter his home.
“The biggest thing for me was the support from OARS and I really appreciate that,” Barry says. “Karen found Samuel – he made a lot of phone calls and got onto My Aged Care and they organised a spring clean. Four people came out and it was a whole day, inside and out. I told them to chuck this and chuck that. There used to be boxes of stuff everywhere; some of it was valuable, some of it useless. The whole backyard was full of stuff.”
For Barry, it was “a slow process at first then it took off”. He now has a lot of time and energy for his interests and hobbies which include visiting his five grandchildren, fishing, photographing flowers and birds, and volunteering through his local church. “I got some confidence,” he says. “It is quite miraculous because it took me a long time to get there. I don’t think about it too much because when I look back it doesn’t feel like it was me.”
Q: What does Unity Housing mean to you?
A: Unity Housing has given me the security of knowing I have housing, particularly in the current environment.
Q: How has Unity Housing helped to connect you with the community?
A: In the early years of my tenancy, there was far greater interaction with my neighbours, however this has not been the case in recent years. For the first ten years of living here I suffered from agoraphobia (anxiety and panic attacks) and connection with my neighbours was really important. In recent years, I have become involved in the community as a volunteer. Now I have maintained good relationships with them, but we don’t necessarily connect on a regular basis.
Q: How long have you been with Unity Housing?
A: I have lived in this house for 29 years and it has offered me safety, security and stability.
Q: What type of Unity Housing property do you live in?
A: It is a quiet standalone three-bedroom property close to convenient shopping and parks.
Q: What do you like about living in your neighbourhood?
A: I like living where I do. There is little or no vandalism and, as I advance in years, it is good to be close to the Flinders Medical Centre. I am also close to public transport and shopping. I find the rent affordable and manageable.