At the start of 2014, 19-year-old Jessica Miralles arrived in a new town, with two suitcases and just enough money for a meal. After connecting with Red Cross, a year later she is living in a home of her own, is an active member of the local community and is working towards her dream of one day becoming an aged care support worker.
Since moving to a new town in Queensland, Jessica has become an active and much valued volunteer member of a number of local groups - working to support children, young people, people with mental health difficulties. She also regularly volunteers as a fundraiser for a number of charities.
Jessica lives with a number of mental and physical health conditions. After leaving an unstable family environment Jessica was homeless for eight-months. During this time Jessica stayed on people's couches, in homeless shelters and sometimes even on the street.
Jessica is now following her dream of working in aged care and Red Cross is supporting her into training and work experience. "I'm definitely in a more secure place," she says with a huge smile. "Before I didn't know what was happening to me each day."
Jessica says her days of homelessness are over and she's in a much better place. She suffers from severe depression, anxiety and epilepsy, and while she says they have created huge hurdles, with the support of agencies including Red Cross, and her enormous will to overcome, she feels she's in a good place.
Jessica says Red Cross was always there.
"Sometimes I felt like maybe I should just give up. It's just getting too tough. Couch surfing is getting too much. Then I would have my Red Cross worker support me and help me through and it was like, 'Someone cares…because not many people do!'"
Jessica now lives in a stable, safe house with a partner and her beautiful dogs.
"Now I have a secure place which has helped me move forward. Now I don't have in the back of my mind…'Am I losing the house today?' Being a couch surfer you never knew where you'd have to be by the end of the day."
Jessica says having a house has not only helped her mental health; she's physically healthier as well.
"Before I used to catch a bus every day. Now I have a bicycle and I ride nearly everywhere. I can do up to about 30 kilometres a day."
She says it's helped her take control of her own time. Rather than be at the mercy of bus timetables she can plan her day, and she enjoys listening to music while exercising outdoors.
"If it wasn't for Red Cross I would be homeless. I wouldn't have a secure place. Red Cross has actually helped me find the support networks that I've got. They helped me find the people I'm living with and they've given me hope that there is something secure out there and there is support and people who care."