I had everything. I’d worked for a courier company for 14 years, then ran a successful landscape gardening business on the north shore. I was financially secure, living in Pymble with my partner, Kylie.

In the past Kylie had issues with gambling. I’d spent $110 a day for her to go to rehab in Melbourne. She was doing really well and I was proud of her. But one day, I tried to use my credit cards and couldn’t access any funds. She’d spent $260,000 on poker machines. I don’t know why. Maybe she felt lonely. Maybe she was bored.

I lost everything - my car, my house, my furniture, even my cat. I lost my mates and my social life. And of course I lost Kylie. She took everything besides my sanity.

I went from having everything to sleeping on cardboard in Hyde Park. I had to cover the sprinklers with plastic bags so I could get some rest.

I felt numb and lost. I had no shoes for three months and ended up with a bone spur. I didn’t have any clothes with me because it was too hard to carry them.

Food wasn’t a problem. People were so generous. I met some really nice people who would stop and see how I was going and not overlook me.

The worst parts are the loneliness and lack of friendship.

When you’re in that situation you live one moment at a time…just surviving.

There are a lot of people like me on the street. You’d be surprised, people who were successful and lost everything.

I tried to get help, but it was really hard. I caught a train out to a hostel in Parramatta, but the dormitory I was put in was full of people who’d just got out of jail. They suggested I contact Mission Australia who referred me to Housing NSW.

I’ve been living in my own place for six weeks now. I’m so grateful I just want to put back into the community. Thank you so much for your hospitality and the kindness you’ve shown me.

Standing together

Matthew was referred to me by our counsellor. When I sat down to listen to his story, he was still on the streets. For me, it was about keeping hope alive for Matthew. He knew from others on the streets how long it could take to get housing. I said to him, “I’ll stay with you until things get better.” It was really important to him that I would listen to him and be there for him for as long as he needed me.

Dave, Mission Australia caseworker

A home with heart

An estimated 1 in 5 people experiencing homelessness are over the age of 55. In Orange, there are people sleeping in drainage ditches or rubbish compacters just to keep warm during the cold, harsh winters, so there’s a real need for our newest 60-bed, aged-care facility, Benjamin Short Grove. Modelled on our award-winning Annie Green Court and Charles Chambers Court, construction began in April and is expected to take around 12 months.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people we help.

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