Lily House director Sharon Fergus is motivated to help women through very difficult times in their lives.
Lily House director Sharon Fergus is motivated to help women through very difficult times in their lives. Patrick Woods

Making a connection key in battle against addiction

SEEING vulnerable women regain strength and learn new skills motivates Sharon Fergus to volunteer at a Sunshine Coast refuge.

She has been a director at Lily House in Nambour for the past four-and-a-half years, working with a team of fellow volunteers.

The charity offers temporary accommodation to women, mostly domestic violence victims, but also those rehabilitating from substance abuse and other issues.

Up to six women stay in the home at any time but only after they have been assessed as compatible with the women already in the home.

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They also have to obey the rules of no alcohol or drugs, no violence and no men.

Residents learn about budgeting, nutrition and exercise and take part in art therapy and parenting programs.

Mrs Fergus said demand for the service was great but as a non-government-organisation, funding was difficult to come by.

"The women pay rent but it doesn't cover running costs," Mrs Fergus said.

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Businesses and local government grants help out but they have only received three grants in the past eight years.

Every bit of furniture in the home is donated.

Without its dedicated volunteers, it would not exist.

Mrs Fergus said their devotion was reflected in the positive outcomes for clients, such as those dealing with drug issues.

"I think the thing when it comes to addiction - what women really need is connection," she said.

"We care, we really care."

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She said volunteers needed to be flexible and non-judgemental.

"You have to have a heart for doing something like this."

She said some ex-residents kept in touch and support continued for women after they moved out.

Volunteers go to weddings, children's birthdays, court appearances and other events.

"I love my job.

"We have some really good outcomes."

For more information, to volunteer or to donate visit or call 0421 451 514.

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