It’s all thanks to her nonprofit Friends with Dignity, which has so far supplied $8 million worth of goods to abuse survivors across Australia. And the demand is rising rapidly.
Manuela Whitford at the Friends with Dignity office in Brisbane. Credit: australiabusinessblog / Matt Gast
“We’ve been inundated with requests and in the past week alone we’ve helped put together five homes,” said Ms Whitford.
In 2009, the trained nurse was on her way to work in her home city of Johannesburg, South Africa, when she was violently attacked on a public street.
“I made the decision that I would not be a spectator. If I knew about violence or saw something like that, I would help that person.”
Manuela Whitford sorted donated goods in the warehouse. Credit: australiabusinessblog / Matt Gast
Shortly after, Ms Whitford left for Australia and continued her career as a nurse in the prison system before starting the charity. It is one of several services reporting an increase in demand since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“But we are blessed with donations, on a daily basis. Some items are brand new. It’s amazing how the community is working together to help families in need.”
“Because the children were so young, they had to leave all their belongings behind. It took a long time for us to go back and take everything we needed,” she says.
Mary Page volunteers at Friends with Dignity Credit: australiabusinessblog / Matt Gast
Ms. Page was one of the first to volunteer with Friends with Dignity and to date has helped furnish nearly 700 homes for people to get their lives back on track.
“My heart goes out to them because I’ve been there and I know what it’s like.”
Mary Page and Manuela Whitford. Credit: australiabusinessblog / Matt Gast
The National Women’s Safety Alliance’s 2022 survey found that nine out of 10 domestic, familial and sexual violence primary care services have reported an increase in abuse since the start of the pandemic.
“It’s always full and we have to turn people away because there’s no more room.”
“We have a lot of work to do.”
In this country, one woman a week is murdered at the hands of a partner or ex-partner.
Hayley Foster, CEO of Full Stop Australia
“So we’re doing our best to make sure it looks as good as possible so they can move in.”
One of the homes that Friends with Dignity has decorated Credit: Delivered Manuela Whitford
Ms Foster says domestic violence is widespread.
“You can donate to a charity that does this work, you can stand up and speak out, and just be there to support people and point them to available services.”
Manuela Whitford is grateful for the donations. Credit: australiabusinessblog / Matt Gast
Services that help people fleeing abuse say a range of household items is needed.
The Men’s Referral Service provides advice to men about domestic violence and can be reached on 1300 766 491.