Dear Inner Circle,

At the front door yesterday I was politely stopped by a man on my way into the building asking if I could spare a minute. My days are so jammed with meetings at the moment that I thought of this as a chance for a good distraction. Usually he is a wise-cracking and somewhat fidgety bloke, however this time he was calm and collected as we sat a little apart allowing the morning sun to warm us both. After a moment he launched in to say “I can’t go back, I just can’t”. His smile was wide, “I’ve spent the past two weeks in a hotel, in a bed, and I don’t think I can go back to the street. I’m going to get every piece of paperwork required, just you watch me, I’ve got this….now, all I need from you is to help me remember, what do I need to do again?”. I returned his smile and introduced him to a capable staff member who’s competence in such matters leaves me reeling with admiration. To think that our teams have been working so hard with the government, to get an average of five people sleeping rough off the streets and into hotels each day! I paused to reflect on the positive impact that a roof and a bed is having on our people’s lives, and reminded myself of how often the moments we stumble upon in distraction, are also the moments where we find the gold.

There is nothing we can do to manufacture the moment when someone has the courage to move away from a life of familiar desperation towards one of unfamiliar healing. If we could, we would be guilty of manipulation. Even though ultimately it is a myth to try and ‘fix’ someone, its’ pursuit is not, and forges a wide and lonely path of misery and disappointment for all who attempt to walk down it. Instead it takes patience and vulnerability to wait and celebrate someone’s own choice and a fragile fledgling step towards life. Sometimes we erupt with a roar, like when a young man proudly announced he was 11 days free of heroin, and other times it’s with a silent cheer and a raised fist, the kind you do when your team kicks the winning goal, but your child is asleep next to you on the couch. All we can do is be present and awake for that moment with all the supports in place to help that person know that better opportunities await.

This week we were given the greatest gift as we were about to close up for the day. A familiar face appeared at our doorstep with a few car-loads of toilet paper for us to add to the care packs that we are currently delivering across Sydney to people in need. This is a man who went from once being a street kid of the Cross to now a wise, well-loved and respected elderly statesman in the community. Someone who has never forgotten what it is like to struggle to make ends meet. When a gift is weighed against the giver it increases in value. His move from a life of self-preservation to one of self-giving is the greatest gift any one of us could hope for and is truly inspiring.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

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