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If I hadn't knocked on their door...

…I probably wouldn’t be here


Ross never thought he’d be homeless. He had a house and was earning goodmoney. All it took was that one accident.

“I was on a camping trip with mates and we took the quadbikes. I went up one side of a hill and then there was a drop, just straight vertical. It flipped me backwards downthe slope about 15 or 20 feet and I watched the bike fallon top of me … it weighs about 400 kilograms so I neverstood a chance.”

Ross

Ross’s head split open and his eye sockets cracked. After six weeks back at work he was forced to leave his job because of pain in his back. The damage wasassessed as severe, but not critical. He was placed ona waiting list for surgery.

The pain became too much for Ross to bear. He searched desperately for something to make it better. “It was the pain that put me onto the drugs really. Once you have it, the pain is just gone. But it was the meth thatmessed me up. It makes you absolutely stupid.”

Then one day Ross’s bowels shutdown. His lower spine had become inflamed — an area where the nervescontrol bowel movements. The fact he’d kept working and walking for so long had made it worse.

He was forced to have an emergency operation thatwas unsuccessful and he was left incontinent.

Ross’s life quickly began to spiral. He started using more drugs — more often. Soon Ross was selling what he owned to pay for his drug habit, pouring hundreds of dollars into it each week. He cut ties with his family to avoid being seen in this state.

“I wasn’t the person I wanted them to see so I wouldn’t turn up to things theyorganised. I missed so much — my nephew’s sports games, many family birthdays.

”He started to get behind in rent, power, gas…everything. “It spiralled out of control. Pretty soon I had nothing.”

Before long, Ross was homeless. He would couch surf or stay in empty houses that were in the process of being built, leaving before the builders came back in the morning.

Ross 2

“I could normally find food. But it was just cold. I’ve never experienced anything like that. I had nothing to cover me up. I had a bag with some clothes, that’s all. I was lucky that some of the houses I found had showers…but only with cold water!”

It was when Ross spent a stint of five nights in an empty house that he knew he needed help.

Ross knocked on the door of the Salvos. “I just got there and said hopelessly, ‘What do I do?’”

The Salvation Army’s The Beacon provides crisis and transitional accommodation for up to 102 men in the heart of Perth. It also offers services like employment assistance, counselling and training courses.

At The Beacon, Ross had his own room, quiet placesto rest, a caseworker who showed him genuine compassion and gave him firm guidelines, and activities to fill his day. 

Ross was supported through visits from the mobile GP. Drug counselling and positive lifestyle classes covering topics such as anger, guilt and addiction were part of his daily routine.

A big part of his recovery were the art classes offered at The Beacon, run by a former resident. The Salvos also gave Ross a walker to help him move around and manage his pain. Most importantly, Ross is now renting a one bedroom unit of his own. It’s even got a yard for his dogs.

“My house is only a kilometre away from the beach, the bus stops right outside my door and the neighbours are great. I feel stable and secure, which is what I’ve always wanted.”

Ross is still recovering physically but is currently enrolling for a Certificate in Community Services. “I want to give back what was given to me…pay it forward.

“If I hadn’t got help from the Salvos, I probablywouldn’t be here. My mum was watching me slowly die and now she’s got her son back. I thank God every day for that.

“To the people who support The Salvation Army,just know you’re saving someone’s life. That’s what you did for me.”

Each week the Salvos provide 2,000 bedsfor people experiencing homelessness.Thank you for helping to change a lifebefore it becomes a lifetime.