Welcome to our special series celebrating Diversity and Inclusion in MercyCare’s employees, volunteers and service users. Our stories are accompanied by Steve Wise’s remarkable photographs, that show how these ordinary, yet extraordinary, people are individually effecting change for themselves and the people around them. We hope you enjoy their personal stories.
Tania Hennah – MercyCare Housing Support and Youth Outreach Worker
Sometimes you just know. At 14, Tania Hennah knew exactly what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
“I started volunteering with a youth group and it’s then I knew: I wanted to do youth work. I’m 54 now and I’m still doing it. You get a calling, I guess,” Tania said.
For a quarter of a century, Tania has been a MercyCare Youth Outreach Worker, zig zagging her way across Perth supporting young families to break the cycle of homelessness.
“It’s an opportunity to make a positive difference to marginalised people’s lives.
“Everyone needs a break, some people need a second, third chance. Life deals you the card you are dealt and sometimes you need that support to be able to work your way through that to get the best out of life.
“When you see people get positive change and you are part of that, it’s a great job.”
It’s why Tania has never pursued management roles. She wants to be on the ground.
“I have a knack for the face-to-face stuff and I love to do it. No one day is ever the same.
“To be able to come to young families and support them to find and maintain stable accommodation so they can rebuild and parent effectively, this can set a new course in life for their children and break the cycle. This is what I love about this job.”
Tania grew up within the idyllic surrounds of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Her childhood was one of summers spent on the beach, school and paper rounds. It’s a world away from the families she helps.
“I think all of us are individuals, all of us are different, all of us have different strengths that sometimes we don’t even know that we have. Sometimes it helps for someone to help bring those strengths out in you.
“I think sometimes when you have been dealt a card that makes you feel that you are not worthwhile or you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you fail to see the things that you can do.
“Some of the things that have beaten us down can be the things that make us stronger and help other people.”
Tania learns life lessons from her clients too.
“I’ve learnt heaps from my clients. I don’t sweat the small stuff because there are other people that have been through way worse situations that I couldn’t even imagine. It has made me more balanced.
“Some of the young people I work with are 15, 16 going into rentals and they’ve got children. They think their life is not going anywhere or they can’t cope. I say ‘goodness me, you are keeping two tiny human beings alive every day. You’re doing that. Other kids your age, their biggest stress is what colour nail polish to wear to school that day’.
“It puts things into perspective.”