In December 2016, James* had an amazing life. He had just moved from New Zealand to live with his partner in Bondi Beach. He had a great job, great friends, food in the cupboard and lived just 2 minutes from the beach. Little did he know, the beach would soon become his home in a more literal sense, in only a matter of weeks.
It all started when a disagreement broke him and his partner up. Since her name was on the lease, he had to go stay at a local backpacker’s hostel.
“I had already paid rent that week, and didn’t have much money. Being at the hostel was pretty hard, everyone wanted to party and I joined them – this had a big impact on me being able to get to work each day. After missing 2 days of work, I told my boss the situation I was in and told him that there was no way in my position that I could commit to going to work. Not only was it hard changing from living in an amazing apartment to a hostel, the emotional stress from the break up also had a huge impact.”
“A week later, with no money or savings left I was out on the streets and found myself with all my possessions sleeping rough at the back of the Bondi Pavilion, with approximately 7 other homeless people. This was the first time I had experienced anything like this. Being in a new country with no support from Centrelink and not knowing anyone here to help me, it was extremely hard.”
However, change was just on the horizon. One morning at the Pavilion, one of the rough sleepers mentioned “The House” to James, which offers hot showers, toiletries, food and a place to just ‘be’. The House was of course Norman Andrews House, which is now Wayside’s Community Services Centre at Bondi Beach. James asked if he could come and they told him it was open to everyone.
“When I arrived at Bondi CSC I was somewhat nervous but I was greeted with so much respect and with absolutely no judgement. I kept quiet for the first week I was around but then I had a conversation with one of the staff members who took me aside into the upstairs office and explained how they could help me. I was given clothing, food, credit for the cafe, phone cards and all the support I needed.”
James then met with Mandy, our Employment Pathways Officer, who assists our visitors with pathways back into employment. Mandy helped James edit his CV and assisted him to acquire a new phone so employers could contact him.
A week later, James got his first job trial at a local business in Bondi and the next week, was told he got the job!
“I am still absolutely stoked! It will be the first time I have had money in my pocket for over a month and to be honest – I would have not been able to do it with the help from the team at The Wayside Chapel.”
James is just one of our many stories of transformation at The Wayside Chapel. He’s not in the clear yet, but he remains positive.
“The services The Wayside provide really can help change lives, the staff take the time to listen to you and give suggestions and advice on things that may be able to better your situation. Being a Kiwi I did not know where to go, I knew for a fact I couldn’t get government assistance and to be honest I had too much pride to ask for help from family and friends – they all still think I am living the high life in Sydney.”
“I may still be on the streets, living rough, but I know my situation will change soon. I am someone who believes you can always take positives from any negative situation, I am living proof of that now. I would like to thank everyone at The Wayside Chapel – the staff, the volunteers and also the friendly clients who come in each day from all walks of life. As they say, from rock bottom you can only go up.”
*Surname omitted to protect James’s privacy
You can help support James* and many others like him by making a donation to Wayside Chapel.