‘Life was just me, my dog and alcohol…’

Friday 4 February 2022

Phil Dawber, a resident at John Purcell House, Vinnies’ residential accommodation for men in Nowra, shared his story during the Vinnies CEO Sleepout in June 2021.

"Life was very hard... It was cold, no warmth in life. On my own, just me and my dog. Living like that I just seemed to withdraw more and more from social gatherings, meetings, talking with people.

“I start[ed] getting a lot of health issues living that way and not eating - when you do eat it’s rubbish. I turned to alcohol; alcohol became the third person in my life - it was myself, my dog and my alcohol. I was very, very sickly all the time.

“Lonely, very lonely. I used to go what’s called ‘people shoppin’ – I’d sit in a car in a carpark or on a chair somewhere and watch people. Watch them with their families and think ‘how good would that be to have a family like that? I wonder what they’re doing while they’re out today – looking for something new to buy from that electrical shop they just went into.

“I used to dream about having a life like that. Today, I know I can have that – a lot of work – but I can have that, I‘ve just got some health issues to get over.

“JPH (John Purcell House) has got me here which was like turning around and seeing a castle, being asked to live in a castle. And the warmth was here – I wasn’t cold anymore – I had a room with a bed and people making meals for me – do you know what that’s like? Wow.

“I can’t describe that in words, the feeling, it’s all about feelings. The feeling I had inside when I was offered a bed, support by other human beings who wanted to stand next to me and wanted to help me without getting anything back… When I was offered this, it just turned everything around.

“They take me to all my appointments and make sure I get to doctors and things. When I’m nervous they take the phone off me and finish the call if I can’t talk. All this has only come through JPH. I would never have found these people, these sources, I’d still be up in the caves if it hadn’t have been for JPH.

“They put their hand out and I took it.”