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Starting from scratch

The former primary teacher suffered a head injury at work six years ago, but thanks to a large reserve of determination and courage—along with help from The Salvation Army—Cate is leading a fulfilling life.

She is now on the road to becoming financially independent, but her gains have been hard won.

‘I actually had to learn the alphabet again from scratch,’ she said. ‘From my teaching I knew the first way of learning the alphabet was singing it so that’s what I did, and I learnt to spell again by playing scrabble with my mother.’

Cate first became involved with The Salvation Army when she asked them to draw up a budget for her as required by WINZ so she could register as a sickness beneficiary.

Salvation Army staff were then influential in helping her get back on her feet.

They provided the encouragement and guidance for Cate to get to the point where she has completed her qualifications as a Speld tutor for those with learning difficulties and now sits on an advisory panel for Child, Youth and Family.

The Salvation Army also came to rescue in the form of providing advocacy.

Dealing with government departments and fielding batteries of questions can be arduous at the best of times, but with her injury, Cate found the process exhausting and highly stressful.

‘That advocacy has been absolutely invaluable,’ she says. ‘Before that I would go in and leave in tears every time and then home to bed because I would have such a headache.’

Other instances of The Salvation Army stepping in for her include a staff member negotiating the cancellation of a contract Cate had been persuaded to sign by a door-to-door salesman—something she says she wouldn’t have done before her accident.

From early on, Cate had signalled that she was interested in volunteer work once her health had stabilised. She now helps run a cooking course for woman clients of The Salvation Army, showing them how to prepare nutritious and cost-effective meals—skills she says have been lost to many younger women.