Photos: Diana Shypula
Sometimes life throws more at you than you can handle. Just ask brickies labourer, Tim*.
In the space of just six months in 2015, he lost his close friend and ex-wife, Debbie, to cancer and his 28-year-old son, Ben*, to suicide.
Reeling from the losses, he then found out that the Campsie boarding house he had called home for two years was closing for renovation, leaving him homeless. Even worse, a dispute with the owner meant that Tim’s bond wasn’t being refunded.
“I couldn’t afford to go without my bond money,” Tim explains. “So, I stayed on when everyone else left. There was no water or shower or power, so I had torches and bottled water.”
The stress of the situation led to Tim losing his two jobs, which in turn led to him drinking heavily. “I didn’t want to think about things any more, and I was drinking a lot every day, and I mean a lot,” he admits. Tim, 53, says he’s not sure where things were headed, but he was having frequent suicidal thoughts.
The timely intervention of NNC’s Boarding House Outreach Service helped Tim avoid ending up on the streets and reduced the high risk that he would come to harm. After hearing about his situation, caseworker Karen helped Tim to inspect a number of new boarding house rooms and to land a spot in a house in Ashfield. She also helped him get professional psychological help, badly needed dental treatment, and to apply for disability benefits for his alcohol-related brain damage.
Karen’s my new best friend,” Tim says. “She got a plan together for me, whereas before I didn’t know what to do. She’s helped me set goals.”
Tim says unlike his former digs, his new boarding house is clean and cockroach free, meaning he can think about getting work again. “I’m calmer, I’m not worrying about things all the time,” he says. “Before my mind was constantly thinking and worrying.”
Tim’s advice to others in dire straits is to not hesitate about contacting NNC. “I’d recommend them. I said to a friend the other day, ‘Go and see the NNC; they are wonderful and they will help you.’”
On any given night in Australia about 1 in 200 people are homeless (105,000 people). Around 28,191 people are experiencing homelessness in NSW - more people than any other state. About 23 per cent live in boarding houses. Key factors contributing to homelessness include domestic violence and relationship issues; accommodation issues such as housing crisis or inadequate/inappropriate dwellings; and financial difficulties such as housing stress or unemployment. (statistics thanks to Homelessness Australia).
We strongly believe that everyone deserves a place to call home. Unfortunately, the latest rental affordability research reveals housing stress, particularly for low-income Australians, is forcing many people out of the rental market. We would like to see 15-30% of proposed housing redevelopments designated for social and affordable housing. Join us by signing our petition which we will take to the Greater Sydney Commission as they draft plans for how Sydney will look over the next 50 years.
*Name changed and not depicted in photographs to protect privacy.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
|NNC - OFFICIAL SITE|