Kara Holmes: B Miles Women's Foundation
Kara’s psychological embrace helps women in need rebuild their lives
After 12 years of working with Sydney’s homeless community, clinical psychologist Kara Holmes has developed a wealth of knowledge and expertise on how to support women in distress.
She puts it to good use with the help of the B Miles Women’s Foundation, a specialist service for women living with homelessness and mental illness across inner Sydney.
As a contractor for the foundation, Kara provides free individual psychological therapy and group programs for women in need who otherwise would be unable to afford to see a therapist.
“We help women with complex needs that aren’t getting support from public mental health services due to under-resourcing, but who still really need psychological treatment,” she says.
Kara also runs a weekly Wellbeing Group for women who are finding housing and stability in their lives after periods of homelessness, but who need support to develop skills and strategies for coping with everyday living.
The therapy Kara provides is especially important because, despite the fact that many women experiencing homelessness are also recovering from trauma or mental illness, severe financial hardship usually puts psychological therapy out of reach.
“There are lots of barriers to accessing psychological therapy and while a big issue is affordability, people also get confused navigating the complex health system when they are really vulnerable,” Kara says.
Many of Kara’s clients find her sessions life-changing. “I feel included. I have somewhere safe to go where people know me,” says one woman who attends group sessions.
“I felt respected, trustworthy and included in the group sessions,” says another.
“This support has helped me to bring about transformation and positive change in my life in a multitude of ways,” says another.
Despite this, Kara is surprised to have been voted a Westfield Local Hero by her community. But she says she is also delighted by the recognition of the service she provides.
The Wellbeing Group will use its $10,000 Westfield grant to fund interventions for 40 women. This could include the required clinical psychology assessments, medical assessments, documentation and advocacy to ensure they are approved for accommodation, income support and NDIS packages.