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In a world filled with chaos, uncertainty, and unexpected twists, there are moments when the most mundane things become our anchors to sanity. This is a story of resilience, of finding hope in the midst of despair. It begins with a grandmother, a resilient soul known lovingly by those around her as Grandma, whose life took an unforeseen turn when the place she called home succumbed to flames.

Grandma had planned a special weekend with her eldest grandson. He was so excited to spend some quality time with her, just the two of them. They went out in the afternoon to get some dinner, but when they returned home, they found themselves standing before a house engulfed in flames. “There was smoke pouring out the door. I couldn’t see inside, it was black!”

The devastation was palpable, the loss immeasurable. Grandma was devastated as she stood with her grandson who sobbed beside her, as firefighters worked to put out the blaze. Unfortunately, her home could not be saved, and Grandma had nowhere to go. A happy, healthy woman in her seventies, was now facing homelessness.

With nothing but the clothes on her back and a trolley filled with essentials, Grandma embarked on a journey into the unknown, navigating the streets with a mixture of fear and determination. She was directed to the city for help, which she found incredibly overwhelming. She took shelter at Safe Nights for 10 days and was becoming increasingly anxious as her 10 days neared completion. She was so grateful to learn that a place had been found for her at St Bart’s.

She arrived at the St Bart’s Women’s Service hollow and weak. She was given a room with a bathroom and had access to a shared kitchen. For the first time since she lost her home, she felt safe and cared for. “The staff of St Bart’s have been so amazing, and they’ve been so supportive. So kind, so concerned, so caring. My smile started to come back.”

Grandma found solace in the simple things – a kitchen to cook in, a bed to sleep on, and walls to shelter her from the harsh realities of the world. But it was the compassion of the staff, the St Bart’s Angels as she fondly called them, that truly restored her faith in humanity. “I know without these services; I wouldn’t have made it. This is such a beautiful place. It has been such a God send.”

As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, Grandma’s spirit began to heal, buoyed by the love and support that surrounded her. With each passing day, she reclaimed a piece of herself, piecing together a new life from the remnants of her past.

Grandma spent 7 months at St Bart’s and was excited to find out that a new home had been found for her! “They have found a place for me; we signed the lease and got the keys today! And I’m nervously excited to re-begin a life. I walked in here with a trolley… I’m leaving with bags of things!”

Grandma is looking forward to her new life and is hoping to do a course in counselling, so that she too can give to those in crisis. “At this late age, you find out that anything can happen to anyone at any time. We don’t know what, but if you make it out alive, it’s an opportunity, a possibility to keep going. You’ve got your life; you can restart again.”

Grandma has since moved into her new home and is focusing on healing the emotional and mental trauma of her experience through ongoing counselling. Though she will be missed by staff and residents, she has vowed to return with pie which she will excitedly be making in her brand-new kitchen.

To watch the full interview, click here: Grandma’s Story – Rising from the flames (

Consider a tax-deductible donation to St Bart’s this winter. Every dollar is a step towards shelter, warmth, and dignity for someone in crisis. Donate here.

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