Volunteer profile – Gorman House Detoxification Unit
Since 2005, through a partnership with St Vincent’s Hospital, the NSW branch of the Order of Malta, has been supporting Gorman House in Sydney. If it were not for the NSW Branch’s financial assistance Gorman House would have been unable to continue functioning 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The branch also organises volunteers for the BBQs that are held three times a week to socialise with residents. Volunteer Sarah L’Huillier shares her experiences.
Gorman House is a 20-bed, non-medical residential detoxification unit at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. It provides a safe and supportive environment for some of Sydney’s most needy and marginalised people to withdraw from alcohol and drugs. It is a short-term detoxification program, provided free of charge with the general length of stay being 5 days.
I became a volunteer at Gorman House when I moved from Melbourne to Sydney. My father, Leon, is a member of The Order in Melbourne and suggested that I might like to help with the volunteer program at Gorman House. I am often rostered with various members of The Order and their families, especially the Kirby family.
The BBQs provide a social atmosphere that helps the residents to relax. There are always residents, particularly men, who are keen to cook the BBQ. Friendly debates often take place around the BBQ as to the best way to cook the perfect steak and sausage. I am happy to say that I am now becoming somewhat of an expert after hearing all their advice!
Undoubtedly the opportunity to provide practical support to Sydney’s needy and disadvantaged is the most rewarding part of volunteering at Gorman House. Despite their hardships, and often feeling very unwell due to their withdrawal symptoms, the residents are always keen to chat particularly about various codes of football, their children or happier times in their lives. They love to share stories, laugh and tell of their plans for life after rehabilitation.
The residents at Gorman House are a diverse, multicultural group of people from all walks of life and family backgrounds. Male and female, young and old, married and single, skilled and unskilled, professionals, unemployed, and often homeless. Addiction does not discriminate.
I have met some wonderful, dedicated people through volunteering with members of The Order of Malta at Gorman House and I feel privileged to be part of the volunteer program that helps the staff support the residents.
If you are interested in volunteering opportunities with the Order, please email email@example.com