RizeUp For Those In Need

In early October, McAuley Community Services for Women joined forces with the formidable team at RizeUp Australia, to ready the newly refurbished, custom-designed Heywood House crisis accommodation for opening.

Over a busy four-days, the RizeUp team of volunteers worked to furnish 14 units at Heywood House. Together, they turned empty rooms and blank walls into a warm and welcoming space, for 35 women and children to call home for stays of up to two months.

McAuley CEO, Jocelyn Bignold OAM, believes RizeUp Australia was the perfect partner for this project. “RizeUp’s mission is very closely aligned with our own, and their programs complement our work to support women and children escaping family violence to do so with dignity. It’s a wonderful partnership and one that I hope will continue.”

The team worked tirelessly to problem solve, furnish and decorate not only the 14 units – including seven family suites and seven single units, each with a kitchenette – but also a number of communal areas including a beautiful children’s playroom, and a number of workspaces.

“We cannot thank RizeUp enough for their support and management of this process,” said Felicity Pringle, Head of Communications, Advocacy and Fundraising at McAuley. “The manpower and coordination required to fit out these spaces was extraordinary, but nothing was too difficult for the team. Their positivity and dedication made such an incredible difference to the outcome of this project. The warmth and character they have brought to these spaces is more than we could ever have dreamed.”

RizeUp Australia is a Queensland-founded organisation that now works nationally by partnering with domestic and family violence agencies to enhance their service options. RizeUp founder and CEO Nicolle Edwards says, “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with McAuley and look forward to continuing to work together to provide many more positive outcomes. RizeUp has been supporting McAuley’s clients as they exit refuge for quite a while now. When the request came through to assist with Heywood House, this extremely worthwhile project was an easy decision to say yes.”

With family violence the biggest, and fastest growing cause of homelessness in Victoria, Heywood House provides victim-survivors of family violence with an opportunity for safety and recovery. The combination of accommodation, access to 24/7 support staff, and spaces to attend online meetings and plan for the future, is very unique.

Named in honour of Sheila Heywood, one of two Sisters of Mercy who founded McAuley’s family violence operations in 1988, Heywood House continues a proud history of providing safety and refuge for women and children escaping family violence.

“I can’t stop smiling, imagining the expressions on the faces of our first residents as they discover the oasis that awaits them at such a traumatic time,” said Felicity Pringle. “I believe our team have created a space that Sheila Heywood would be very proud of. We couldn’t have done it without RizeUp Australia’s support.”

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