JEREMY MOVED OVER TO AUSTRALIA FROM NEW ZEALAND LOOKING FOR WORK. AFTER HITTING HARD TIMES HE RESORTED TO DRUGS AND THEN BATTLED SERIOUS MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND HOMELESSNESS. WHEN HE FINALLY DISCOVERED THE MATTHEW TALBOT HOSTEL THINGS TURNED AROUND.
“I spent a few years in rehab, off and on. Got myself straightened up that way but accommodation was the biggest one,” explains Jeremy He spent around 10 years without a home, living in refuges, at friends’ places and even on the streets. “I stayed at a friend’s flat for about five years, just sleeping on the couch. We were going to Vinnies to get food vouchers, but we didn’t realise there was the accommodation side of it, it wasn’t until I came here to the Talbot,” says Jeremy.
The Matthew Talbot Hostel provides accommodation and specialised support to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
These services range from providing nutritious meals, clothing, showers and basic medical to intensive case management, legal and housing support, specialised health care, advocacy and providing a safe, welcoming environment for people who are sleeping rough and have experienced trauma.
When he arrived at the Talbot, Jeremy was given a bed and access to life-changing services. While his case worker helped him access medical treatment and search for more permanent accommodation, Jeremy was able to find his feet again in a safe environment. He joined several classes and workshops to learn new skills and build his confidence. The cooking class and Gambling Anonymous classes were his favourites.
“You have to learn to do things. I did some cooking classes, that was pretty good. I had to sharpen up and get my act together.” Suffering from a mental illness, Jeremy has been unable to keep a job and worries that he will never be in a
position to work again. “I just hear noises and things like that. Sometimes it gives me a fright, things happen and I can’t concentrate, they start and I can’t think. To do work you need to be functional and I often am not functional. It’s not my choice, it just happens.”
Jeremy was lucky that Vinnies found him a private apartment to rent fairly quickly – it took around a year. Many people can be on the waitlist for affordable housing for up to 10 years.
“They furnished it for me and gave me pots and pans, a bed, kitchen table, sofa, TV, coffee table. Basics, but it got me going and I’ve picked up things ever since and it’s a good flat.”
Vinnies runs a clinic at the Talbot to help people keep on top of their mental health and other medical issues. Even though he lives in his own place, he regularly visits the clinic. “I get on well with the clinic. I have chest problems and other things, and they monitor me, at least every two weeks.”
Jeremy struggles financially because he is unable to work. Vinnies is still there for him when he needs support. “I go to Vinnies sometimes just down the road. You go to them and say you are a bit short and they come around
with a food voucher. “I come down to the Talbot for my lunches. Sometimes I come for breakfast, I’ve got to get out of bed by quarter past six to be here on time. But I don’t mind it, if I wake up early I’ll go down for a stroll and have breakfast, I like their breakfasts.”
Jason his caseworker explained: “We want to keep him in the community and being independent, and helping him out there.” Since finding Vinnies, Jeremy has greatly improved his situation and re-built his confidence. “I’ve got a more respectable lifestyle. It’s a good lifestyle, I enjoy it. I enjoyed getting my flat together and putting my own little bits and pieces into it, it looks good, I like it.” Jeremy is incredibly grateful to Vinnies and the donors whose financial support makes it possible for services like the Talbot to operate.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere near this state of mind or state of place if it wasn’t for Vinnies…I’m a different person now.”