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From supermarket to safety

Ryan, homeless

Meet a homeless young man whose life was saved.

It takes courage, street-smarts and luck to survive when you're homeless. Ryan was only 14 when his life started falling apart. His mother was a drug addict, and he was working part-time jobs to earn enough money for them to survive.

After a while it all became too much to handle. Ryan left home and began living in the basement car-park under a supermarket. Each day he'd hide his clothes in a dark corner, and use an unlocked disabled toilet as his 'bathroom'. Ryan had lived like this for two years when The Salvation Army found him…

More than 100,000 Australians are homeless every night. At least one third are young people under 25, like Ryan.

There are not enough crisis accommodation places for everyone who is homeless, so desperate people make do however they can. Rat-ridden rooms in boarding houses, skips, condemned houses, cars, supermarket basement car-parks… After he left home, Ryan decided he would try and reconnect with his family.

 That's when he faced a new tragedy. Since he'd left home Ryan's brother and father had both committed suicide. In all this pain, and trapped in her drug addiction, Ryan's mother didn't want to know him. A month later she too was found dead – of a drug overdose, in a car.

Left completely alone, Ryan tried to fend for himself. But the horrors of his growing-up years had taken their toll, and when The Salvation Army found him in the supermarket car-park Ryan was addicted to drugs and beyond caring enough to look after himself any more.

Ryan was using 'ice', the street name for crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride. When Ryan used the drug he thought it made him feel great and strong, and that it took his troubles away. Really, the addiction was taking his life away.

Thanks to the generous support of caring Australians, The Salvation Army were able to work with Ryan over many months. He was supported to find a home and a job, and then the much tougher task of overcoming his drug addiction.

Once off the drugs, Ryan was able to help police identify local drug-dealers. When these people found out Ryan was assisting the police they searched him out and severely assaulted him.

That night, after the assault, Ryan came to see his Salvos Outreach Worker, James, with whom he'd formed a close relationship.

Realising the danger Ryan faced, James made arrangements to get Ryan out of the state. That night Ryan boarded a plane, heading for a destination where he could build a new life, free from drugs, and safe from his attackers.

Ryan still keeps in touch with James, and we know he's doing well.  He is still living without drugs and has settled into a new productive life. Ryan knows James and The Salvation Army will always be there for him, supporting him to be safe, healthy and happy.

The Salvation Army thanks supporters for the generous donations that enable us to be there for people like Ryan – a young man whose life was saved.

Please note: names have been changed to protect identities and photos are for illustrative purposes

You can support our work with the homeless with your donation to the Red Shield Appeal. Thank you!

Need help?

If you have lost a loved one to suicide please call The Salvation Army National Hopeline on 1300 467 354 or 1300 HOPE LINE. As people involved in caring for others at crucial times, we share in the experience of grief and loss. Salvation Army Officers, counsellors and Chaplains provide words of comfort on a daily basis, support and encouragement to people whose lives have been devastated by the loss of a loved one.

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