The Reluctant Prodigal Son

How practical help made a family’s Christmas very happy

Summary
John was facing the journey of his life to get back home to Ireland, but mental health issues, a broken phone and no cash made it seem impossible that he’d get home to his family at all.
The Irish Support Agency, in communication with his mother and the Irish Consulate in Sydney; 

  • found John in the International Airport's busiest weekend of the year, 
  • got him his first meal in over 24 hours,
  • supported him through the check-in process, and
  • helped him battle his inner fears so he could board the plane with the confidence that the decision was his, and that it was the right one for him.

John got safely home to his family for Christmas, where he has the support of his loved-ones and access to the support and treatment options that he needs.

Challenges
The weekend before Christmas, John's mother called us to let us know that he had agreed to come home to his family and they’d bought his ticket, but that he was very confused, had no money for food and had gone out to the airport over 30 hours before he was due to board his plane.  She didn’t think that he’d get on the plane if someone wasn’t there to help him through the process and she was further upset because she couldn’t reach him by phone.  His family had tried to arrange a bed for the night and get him access to food but the distance and lack of communication made it almost impossible to do.  

How we helped
One of our team, who had already met John when he’d had some other issues a few months before, went out to the airport and found him in a very disorientated state, hungry, thirsty and he’d lost track of time completely.  Some food and a phone call to his mother went a long way to improving the situation.  We helped John get through the minefield of the check-in process, baggage allowances and kept an eye on the time so that he knew he was all set to get home for Christmas.   It was still a very anxious time for John, as his fears built about the journey and things left undone here.  We were able to reassure him that his family would be there to meet him at the other end and that he’d have Christmas at home, to the extent that he was able to head through Security with a lot more peace of mind than how he’d started his long wait in hard, uncomfortable airport chairs.

Results
Not all problems can be fixed with money. Sometimes it’s the presence of someone to look out for you, to be there with you, to point you in the right direction so that you can step forward with an easy heart.  We were delighted to hear that John got safely home to his family and the support he needs to face his challenges.  It made our Christmas a happier one too. 

Names have been changed to protect clients’ privacy.