“My life could be a whole lot different if I didn’t have the opportunity to come here”

Thursday 28 April 2022

Ryan has had time to dwell on the past.

Right now, he is choosing to look ahead.

Going down a self-described downward spiral that culminated in a prison sentence, the prospect of re-entering society without support or a place to live loomed as a grim possibility.

“I saw ads on TV where people are on the street and thought to myself ‘is that going to be me in a couple of weeks?’– it was hard and very confronting to realise the position that I was in.”

With no family or personal ties in New South Wales and few housing alternatives to draw upon, a call to Vinnies at the urging of his parole officer began the process of starting over.

Undertaking an initial phone assessment with the staff at Edel Quinn, a Vinnies service for men at risk of or experiencing homelessness in the Riverina, Ryan received a much needed sense of certainty with an offer to stay at Edel Quinn upon his release from custody.

“The first phone interview I did was very emotional for me; I’m 36-years-old having to reach out to somebody and ask for help, I’ve never had to do that before.”

Remaining in regular contact with staff during the final five months of his sentence, the assistance Ryan has received from Edel Quinn extends far beyond a place to sleep.

Working with the case management team to access educational and employment opportunities, Ryan views the stability of the service as an invaluable stepping stone towards getting his own place.

“The support that I’ve received here and knowing that I have a roof over my head, it’s enabled me to go and seek employment, it’s enabled me to go and seek other rental properties for myself.

“Before I came here, I had a drug addiction. I worked on it in prison and, since being released, I’ve sought a drug course through Edel Quinn; I don’t have to do it because parole wants me to, I do it because I want to – they showed me how to access that support.

“My life could be a whole lot different if I didn’t have the opportunity to come here.”

Gaining a new sense of perspective on life with the support of Vinnies, Ryan is looking forward to finding work and having a home of his own, as well as opening himself up to accepting help from others.

“I was never one for reaching out, I’ve always done things off my own back with work, housing.

“Everyone needs help at some point in their life – all you need to do is ask.

“My life was at its lowest point, I didn’t see many ups to it, I didn’t see much going on - Vinnies and Edel Quinn were there for me. They showed me that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

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The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW has been alleviating the hardship and disadvantage of thousands of people every year for more than 140 years.

To learn more about the accommodation services offered by Vinnies, click here.