VincentCare Victoria's Ozanam House in Melbourne has been helping homeless people since 1953. The inspirational story of Carl shows that with the right help, it's never too late to change your life.
Carl, who grew up in an orphanage, had been living rough on and off for three decades when he was referred to Ozanam House.
It was a move that would change his life and empower Carl to assist others who were experiencing the same challenges he did.
"Sometimes I'd just flip a coin to see where I'd end up. Heads I'd go one place, tails I'd go somewhere else," says Carl.
"The main thing is the loneliness. When you're on your own, you're completely on your own."
VincentCare initially provided Carl with crisis accommodation, but more importantly a case worker was able to help him take the next step in changing his life. He became involved in the Ozanam Community Centre that provides meals, showers and friendship for people doing it tough. He was able to secure permanent accommodation and now works as a volunteer at the centre.
Carl says he received "more support than I've ever got in my life, because they cared. They take their time. They put their energy into it."
"I feel privileged. I'm in a good place now and feeling very positive. I'm able to work at the community centre. I've got something to do. I've got people I can communicate with.
"Because many of the people that come to the centre are still out living on the streets I can talk to them and show them that things can change."
VincentCare Victoria's CEO John Blewonski says VincentCare’s key to success in helping people like Carl is to treat everyone as an individual and take an holistic approach to helping them.
"Everyone is different and needs to be treated as an individual to help them rediscover belief in themselves so they can re-connect in the community and take the next step in changing their lives", says John.
The work VincentCare does recognises that housing alone will not solve the issues many people who are homeless are facing, which is why their work continues to be so important to so many.
"Homelessness is often the result of many other issues that need to be addressed – financial problems, medical and mental health issues, social disconnection, drugs and alcohol, family breakdown and increasingly, domestic violence.
"A lot of our clients have had great trauma in their lives and our role is to facilitate them taking a step at a time to change their lives for the better.
"Carl is an inspiration to us all. We were able to provide him support but it was up to him to take the next step," says John.
See what special tricks Carl uses to light up the lives of those around him.
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