You may have heard it said that we’re all just one or two major life events away from becoming homeless.

For James, it was the loss of his mother, followed 10 months later by the sudden death of his partner, that saw his life fall apart.

James spent four to five years falling in and out of homelessness. He developed addictions to alcohol and other drugs, and lost touch with the world around him.

James says the turning point in his life was a referral to the Mission Australia Centre in Sydney. As he explains it, it was a lifeline that came just in time.

When I first arrived at Mission Australia I was very suicidal. I felt very worthless. I didn’t feel like I could fit into the world anymore and I felt like the world was moving too fast for me.

James likens the support he received at the Mission Australia Centre to that of “an intensive care unit – not medically, for my emotions and my grief and my addiction”.

“Wow, so much happened to me straight away! I was put straight into counselling – drug and alcohol counselling as well as grief counselling, which is still ongoing.”

He’s since completed courses on anxiety, depression, mindfulness and alcohol and other drug rehabilitation, and is also completing a university course with Australian Catholic University through the Catalyst program at the Mission Australia Centre.

James lived in a room at the Mission Australia Centre for about a year before taking up a place at our Common Ground Sydney housing service, where he lives today.

“I look back on myself 12 months ago and I could never picture myself where I am right now. I don’t feel worthless. I feel that I can fit into the world and get back into main society.

I really owe it all to the help that the Mission Australia Centre has given me.

James describes the counsellors who have supported him as “angels with invisible wings”.

“They’re beautiful people. Beautiful hearts, and most importantly, 100 per cent supportive.”

Mission Australia Centre program coordinator Marijana is one of the people who has worked closely with James (she affectionately calls him Jimmy) since he first arrived at our service and is really proud of the progress he’s made.

“When Jimmy came here he needed a lot of support. The initial few months were all about emotional support to ensure he could address the reasons behind why he was homeless. That’s kind of how the Mission Australia Centre works: every person is unique so each approach is different.

“I soon got to know that Jimmy was a real go-getter. He was receptive to the services and programs and he built strong foundations to ensure he could get to the next steps.

“Since Jimmy came here his progression has been remarkable. He has had ups and downs and there have been battles, but he has always had the supports in place that we are so fortunate to provide here at the Mission Australia Centre.

“We are really lucky to have been part of his journey.”

James is determined to one day give back to Mission Australia for all the help he’s received. He’s planning to take small steps at first, but also has big dreams for the future.

Because of what’s happened to me over the past few years I really need to slow things down. Instead of running past the flowers, stop and smell those roses.

“In the short term I just want to get back into the workforce and slowly integrate back into society. In the long term, when I finish my Catalyst course, I am going to go to university to do a law degree.”

James knows that the support he’s received wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Mission Australia’s donors, partners and funders, and shared this message to the people who have helped to turn his life around.

“Wow, the donations to Mission Australia. Thank you so very much for everything that you have given me, from the food, to the medical, to the counselling, I do believe without any of your donations this would not be possible.

“From the bottom of the heart of one of the residents that has been at Mission Australia, on behalf of all of the residents here at the moment, we do thank you very much.”

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