Mother-of-two prioritises others despite her own hardship
CHARMAINE Giles never thought she would be homeless, but after falling sick and losing her job it was a reality the 51-year-old has faced for the past year.
The Laidley mother of two worked as a traffic controller before she was diagnosed with Ross River virus in February 2016, causing her to have time off work.
Before she knew it, Ms Giles had used up all her sick leave, her job changed from permanent part-time to casual, her money had run out and she was living on her friend's couch.
"I was devastated, to tell you the truth, because I lost my job, then I lost a friend who kicked us out," she said.
"To end up here after working so hard, you feel like you can't do anything and they push you aside."
With nowhere to go, Ms Giles arranged for her son to stay at a friend's place while she slept in her car.
"I never thought I'd end up in my car," she said.
Almost 170 people in the Lockyer Valley region identified as being homeless in the last Census, and in July alone, 10 groups of people required immediate accommodation in Laidley.
After living rough for a week, Ms Giles was one of the fortunate ones, with the Laidley Crisis Care and Accommodation Group providing a place for her and her son to live.
"The first day I walked in I just cried, it was just beautiful, it had everything, it's got sheets, it's got shampoo," she said.
Despite still experiencing hardship, Ms Giles has been trying to leave the house to free space for others in need.
"I'm moving in with my brother because I know there are families that need this house, I've been trying to get out, I'm still on the housing list but it takes time," she said.
Ms Giles has been trying to get back on her feet for the past year, but unable to find a full-time job, moving on hasn't been possible.
"I've pretty much gone to every business in town and asked, and it's not their fault and there are young kids coming out of high school, they need work as well," she said.
During the week Ms Giles volunteers as a receptionist at her friend's business and assists in the community garden which helps feed those experiencing homelessness.
Homeless people need houses
CRISIS houses are being refilled before the previous occupants have moved out as a result of the rate of homelessness having risen by 29 per cent in the Lockyer Valley.
Laidley Crisis Care and Accommodation Group manager Donna Balma said in July, seven properties had housed 26 people who had nowhere else to go.
"In (July) we had 58 contacts seeking a variety of things... 10 were looking for immediate support or accommodation," Ms Balma said.
While rental prices in the district remain lower than the metropolitan areas, Ms Balma said the cost of living was still difficult for people in the Lockyer Valley region.
"When you have everything increasing in price and you also have that casualisation of employment, there's no permanency of income, and not only do real estates hesitate at this income but it's hard for people to budget," she said.