The homeless community in Melbourne has gotten a fair bit of negative press lately. Contrary to many of the stories we’ve been hearing in the media, I’ve often received generosity from people who I know who are homeless or have been homeless. I wouldn’t say that it’s a rule, but it’s definitley a strong theme.
1. At one stage when I was living in Ballarat there was a bloke in our street who started chatting to me when we saw each other in the street. He was from out of town but when he was in Ballarat he was squatting in one of the old houses in our street. He took me to come and see where he was squatting.
2. When I first started volunteering at the meals in the city I was taught to cook by a bloke who had been homeless and now lived in a boarding house. He showed us what to do in the kitchen and served everyone. He also invited us to come and have meals at his house and basically looked out for us.
3. Another boardinghouse resident who I met when is started hanging out in the city took me to visit the Hare Krishna temple and paid for my trip back to Ballarat. (I didn’t have work at the time and didn’t know how I was getting back.)
4. There were a lot of different streeties who would look out for us as we chatted with people at the food vans or when we went out to distribute blankets and hot drinks around the city.
5. We recently met a couple of blokes who have been sleeping rough in our neighbourhood, out of the city a bit. They find that they’re often given things they can’t use, so they’ve sometimes passed those things on to us to redistribute.
6. A couple of years ago we had some renovations planned at our unit. The plan was that we’d be out of the unit for a maximum of three weeks, but it actually ended up being five weeks. One of our neighbours (who we first met when he was sleeping rough and hanging out a lot in the city) offered that we could stay with him in his flat.