People with a lived experience will tell you there are many factors that can cause homelessness.
Andrew had been battling drugs for over 30 years when he was homeless. For a while he was couch surfing and eventually ended up on the streets. His family was not in a position to help.
While homeless, Andrew lost his brother to suicide. When he received the news, he wandered the streets in a state of shock.
“I remember walking into cohealth Central City around 3:30pm,” he recalls. “They were closing at 4pm. I walked in and I broke down. I felt so much pain and sorrow deep inside my core. I couldn’t stop crying.”
“The workers at cohealth stood by me. They didn’t leave me alone,” he says. “I had lost track of time. Before I knew it, it was 7pm. Despite their shifts finishing at 4pm, they stood by me. They didn’t ask me to leave. In my 49 years, I have never felt such compassion and care.”
Following his brother’s suicide, Andrew was involved in a serious car accident where he broke his neck and ended up in intensive care. Four days later, his dad who was battling cancer died from a fall. On the day of his dad’s funeral, Andrew received a call notifying him that his mum had died from emphysema.
“The news totally blew me,” he says. “I was at my wits end. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. It was all too much. I started having dark thoughts and I was really close to throwing in the towel.”
Andrew got the support he needed through cohealth’s drug and alcohol counselling. Around the same time, he received transitional housing support.
“I started going to cohealth every day,” he recalls. One thing led to another. One day became one week. Then one week became one month. Before I knew it, I had gone twelve months without using. My case worker took me out to celebrate.”
Andrew has now been off drugs for nearly two years and has secured permanent housing.
“I have pride now,” he says. “I’ve built up my flat and I’m really proud of it. I have a nice place that is my own, with a TV, a couch and a bed. And I have cohealth to thank for everything – if it wasn’t for the care and support I was shown, I know for a fact I wouldn’t be here to share my story.”
cohealth provide a range of services for people experiencing homelessness to access suitable, affordable and stable housing and learn how to navigate the service system. View cohealth’s homelessness support services for more information.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au
In an emergency, please call 000.