Stress, space and school: life before and after a studio

It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have eight people living in a three-bedroom unit. This was the reality for carer Renee* and her family. They moved into Renee’s mother’s small unit to care for her when she was diagnosed with heart failure. Then two years ago, Renee was diagnosed with heart failure herself. 

The hurdles don’t stop there. Renee’s niece had to suddenly move in with the family and was forced to share a bedroom with Renee’s mother. The family was almost at breaking point with the overcrowding. Running out of options, Renee was about to make the painful decision to sell her mother’s only asset, her home.

Just before Christmas last year, their wishes came true and the family received a two-bedroom studio for her two sons, Lachlan* and Tom*.

“It was perfect to get the studio before Christmas, it’s changed everything. We don’t feel like we have to move now:”

Renee tells us the studio has had a huge impact on her son Tom.

“Before the studio the house was crazy. Tom never had the space to be alone and be himself, because when you share a bedroom you can’t kick your siblings out of their own room. Now he has the space to be whoever Tom is and wants to be.”

Getting the studio has changed his whole attitude. Tom planned to leave school in year 10, but now he’s ready to tackle year 11 and 12.

“The studio had a huge part to play in this. Before getting the studio, Tom felt pressure to get a job and move out. He was sleeping on the couch and thought school didn’t suit him. We never expected him to stay in school past year 10.”

Tom speaks of his new enthusiasm for education since he’s had the studio.

“I’ve chosen to go back to year 11 and it’s the first year I’ve been excited to go to school. I hope to finish year 12!”

Renee says this is a big step for Tom and will help him have confidence in himself.

“He feels he has never succeeded in anything, he never got awards at school and never got trophies or ribbons for sport. But the independence of the studio has changed his whole mindset! He is proud to have his own space and can now look into a bright future and believe that he can succeed.”

Tom says life was cluttered and unpleasant before he received the studio.

“I was sharing a bedroom with two boys. I couldn’t have my own space; I was getting older and I really needed my own privacy.”

This has all changed since moving into the studio.

“Since the studio we haven’t been overcrowded and now we have the space to express ourselves.”

Renee’s other son Lachlan has autism, which has been challenging for him and the whole family. Renee says the studio has given him the chance to develop life skills, which she says are important for his future.

“Lachlan is very delayed and struggles socially, but the studio helps him to be independent and look after himself.”

Renee sums up their experience with the studio so far.

“It’s been a dream. The studio has changed our life”.

*Names and details changed to protect identities.