Mum gives back to community
Walking into the Salvation Army and asking for help might seem daunting and humiliating.
But Vianne O'Byrne would never make you feel ashamed.
The warm, welcoming and comforting lady has been there.
Four years ago she was on the front page of the Eastern Courier receiving a Christmas food parcel for her family.
Now she is giving something back as communities co-ordinator at the Howick Salvation Army.
The Eastern Courier and Salvation Army Christmas appeal is calling for donations to help make the festive season special for struggling families.
Ms O'Byrne says the Salvation Army helped her through the process of being a solo mum to having the confidence to reach her potential.
"With the help of government organisations and the Salvation Army I'm at a place where I can work and support my children.
"I come from a very dysfunctional family but I've seen how other people live. I've learnt how to do things differently by watching other people."
Ms O'Byrne was in an unhappy relationship and decided it was better to be alone.
"The boys' dad has been in and out of our lives since originally leaving our family when my youngest son was four months old."
People who come into the Salvation Army aren't there by choice but by their situation, she says.
"I didn't choose to be by myself with my four boys. I didn't expect when I married that it would be like this," she says.
Ms O'Byrne, who suffered from depression, clings to hope.
"It's like a hole, you don't have to be in the black hole forever though."
She says her own experiences enable her to empathise with people and encourage them that this is only a short chapter in their life.
"I have people say to me: ‘you know what I'm talking about eh?' because I've been there.
"I can give them hope and let them know I'm living differently now so they can too.
"We're not designed to walk this journey alone."
To register for help this Christmas call into the Salvation Army, 39 Wellington St, Howick, from Wednesday to Friday between 9am and 4pm or phone 535 0847.