It’s not easy finding housing these days, and sometimes, it’s even harder for single mothers.
Mackay and her son Charlie were forced to move into her two-passenger utility vehicle, or “ute,” after Mackay’s relationship ended. Although living rough was often cold and uncomfortable, Charlie’s mom bent over backward to make things as easy as possible for him.
When they didn’t have enough money for food, Mackay went hungry so Charlie could eat. Since he has ADHD, speech and language delays, and a panic disorder, attending school is especially important to keep him grounded. Even when camping inside their cramped car throughout the Perth, Australia winter, Mackay made sure to get her son to school every day on time.
After three months in the ute, Mackay was desperate to find a safe place to park at night. She posted a housing request on a local Facebook group, where an unsavory group that preys on unhoused mothers noticed and responded.
Thankfully, therapist Claire Orange also saw Mackay’s plea for help. Claire also recognized the predators circling a vulnerable mother and son. She knew she had to do something to help them, and fast.
“I saw her being chased [online] by a group of blokes who routinely go after women who are homeless with children and exceptionally vulnerable,” Claire recalled.
Mackay shared a photo of Charlie sitting inside the ute, and Claire was able to make out his school uniform. She recognized it and called the school with an offer that seemed too good to be true: She wanted to give Mackay and Charlie a safe place to stay until they got back on their feet.
Claire has raised four children and had plenty of extra space in her house. She and her family agreed it was an easy decision to take in the mother and son.
“We have the room so why wouldn’t you give a lovely family a home?” she reflected.
Once Mackay and Charlie moved in, Charlie’s school started hunting for a more permanent home for them. Within a few months under Claire’s roof, they landed a dream apartment that even has a yard for their dog and a future trampoline for Charlie.
Claire’s generosity didn’t end there! Determined to help the little family get back on their feet, she started a GoFundMe campaign that has brought in far more than their $10,000 target.
“Imagine living in a ute – with a 6 year old – over Winter,” Claire wrote on GoFundMe. “This is what Mackay and Charlie have done – and she’s one of many homeless women in Perth who has struggled to find a home for her child. In the time that Mackay has been homeless, she’s looked after Charlie beautifully – taking him to school every day, cooking for him, putting up her small Summer tent when the weather allowed so that they were able to sleep lying stretched out instead of bundled up. She’s a remarkable, ferocious mumma who’s put her child’s needs first consistently.”
In addition to cash, members of the community also donated household items, furniture, and a bike for Charlie! All of the donations will help Mackay set up house and get Charlie extra help in school.
Mackay is still shocked by the outpouring of support from her community. Even Claire calls the response “remarkable” and was touched by how generous people can be. All it took was one person to set the gears in motion!
Share this story to thank Claire for going out of her way to help a struggling mom and her son.
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