We had the privilege of visiting an amazing refuge in the hinterland of the Gold Coast that specifically creates a safe haven for women, children and their pets.
When we drove into the driveway, we knew it was something special and are so thankful to have been able to speak with Simone, the Founder and the amazing woman behind The Sanctuary. See our interview with Fleur below.
FLEUR: Hi, everyone. I'm Fleur and this is the gorgeous Simone and we're coming to you from a very special place today. We are coming into your life, from The Sanctuary in the Gold Coast.
Now, Simone, you're the founder of The Sanctuary here, just tell everyone a little bit about exactly what you're doing here.
SIMONE: Yeah, it's The Sanctuary, Women, Children and Pets Refuge. You can find us on Facebook or on the website and we are a women's refuge for women escaping domestic violence with their children and pets. And we're unique. We take boys over 12 and pets. Which I think's really important because a lot of women won't leave because they can't take their pets, they can't take their boys over 12 and there's nowhere that will take them.
So, it was a bit of a no brainer for me when I set it up that it had to encompass pets and the children, of course.
FLEUR: Yeah, And how long have you been doing this now for?
SIMONE: We've been going for three and a half years and I've worked in the field for 30 years and worked in lots of different fields that every job has set me up for where I am today.
FLEUR: Yeah, that's terrific. Simone's bio, the back catalogue of knowledge and information experience is phenomenal. And I understand how you've come here and I think that it's a good place with Simone in it. And all the wonderful volunteers here as well at The Sanctuary.
So we've got currently nine self-contained units that can accommodate moms and kids?
SIMONE: We've got six family units and we've got three rooms in the house and we're going through the last bit of council and housing legislation and then we'll be able to open up the last three rooms and then we'll have 12. And then my main focus will be, in the new year, trying to get the disabled-friendly unit up and running. So it's going to be wheelchair accessible so we can take then assistance dogs as well.
FLEUR: Yeah, great. And so talk to us a little bit about some fundraising assistance that would be a great value to add towards helping you achieve that.
SIMONE: Yup. We need builders. We need plumbers, electricians and carpenters. There's always something I'm wanting to build and every time I get to the bottom of my list, the list grows again.
FLEUR: It self-populates, doesn't it?
SIMONE: It does. It does. I need a lot of help with tradies. I need financial assistance. I'm really bad at asking for money. I'm bad at organizing fundraisers. So, I need help in so many ways with Facebook, with marketing. So, if anyone out there can help, if you can contact me, I'd be really grateful for it.
FLEUR: That's a phenomenal cause here and it's great to see it actually in action and see the people around and the dedication towards the cause as well of creating a nice safe home. I think it's that really key thing here is that you're creating a home and that can be a moment in time, but it's such a key, critical, thing to everyone's foundation to build themselves back up again.
You can contribute in some capacity. It's coming into Christmas, so it's definitely going to be an incredibly busy time here at The Sanctuary. It's always busy time anyway, but every little bit helps.
For businesses out there, this is why we participate in causes like this in whatever way we can, it's completely tax deductible so it's a no brainer and it's just that little bit of generosity that Leina and I, and our team subscribe to paying it forward.
Every little bit goes a long way.
You've also been involved with some fantastic volunteers as well. Just tell us a story about the Fight like a Pro, with helping out things here. That's just an indication of, once you come on board how addicted you become to the cause as well.
SIMONE: Gav Topp, he's a phenomenal man. Fight Like a Pro, he's helped me for three and a half years. He's helped build fences. He's helped get me builders. He's helped get plumbers, electricians. There's nothing I need that I don't ask Gav for. I say, "Gav, I need this today." And within an hour or two, that phenomenal man and his great team, Mick Robinson, they just jump in and they're great guys.
SIMONE: They just keep coming back and I say, "Stop coming. You've helped us for more than a year." And he keeps coming back because he said, "Until everything's done, I'm not going to stop." And he's a man of his word. It's a beautiful quality he's got.
And we've got lots of tradies that keep coming and there are so many people on the Gold Coast and from Sydney that want to help. And sometimes I get things posted in the posts, some clothes or toiletries and it'll be someone saying, "I don't have much money, but I wanted to just give you this."
And it's that sort of beautiful thing. And when we're fundraising and someone pops $5 in and then you get an email later saying, "I'm 14 and I decided I'd put my $5 from working." And you just go, "Oh, that's a little kid's, $5." And sometimes it's that, that brings tears to my eyes and I go, "Wow, it's a 14-year-old kid trying to make a difference in the world."
So it's those beautiful things. Or, when it's an older person that's donating and you just think, "Wow, that's... People are beautiful."
FLEUR: Just reiterating again, like every little bit helps. And I think it's the value that that child is being taught is beautiful and they're going to bring it forward as well. And there we know, we know that there are so many generous people out there and I just love what you're doing here. We all do.
SIMONE: Thank you.
FLEUR: We're enormously grateful for what you are contributing to the community and encourage everyone in some capacity to get on board and help as well.
SIMONE: And I think it's a timely reminder especially with Christmas, that we do need Christmas presents. We need it for the women, and the children and the pets. And there's no postcode that domestic violence doesn't touch. It's everywhere. It's not lower socio-economic areas. It is right through life. And you would all know someone who's been affected or is currently going through domestic violence and we can't keep helping these beautiful birds without your help. So we need you to help us keep this amazing place going.
SIMONE: I love this dress. This print is... What's this print?
FLEUR: It's called the Aviary. Oh, the dress is the Ava and the print is the Aviary print. And it's, yeah, got the gorgeous macaw on it. And Roger's on her.
SIMONE: Thank you, Leina.
FLEUR: So, thanks for joining us today. We're going to wrap up now, but again, we'll have a link through to The Sanctuary and check them out online and just follow them on Facebook. We've got customers in Sydney, we know that contribute and participate in some capacity. So, let's spread it beyond those borders and dig deep and help out where we can. Thank you.
SIMONE: Thank you.
FLEUR: Thanks, Simone.