“People end up homeless for all sorts of reasons. I don’t think that we realise the sort of reasons people become homeless, it can happen to anyone in the flash of an eye.”

Nick has kind eyes. He is intelligent, articulate and has a knack for making others smile. This is what makes him so valuable as the first port of call at BaptistCare HopeStreet Inner City, in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo.

Like many of the clientele, Nick knows homelessness. He left home at 14 and hasn’t returned. “I didn’t get along with my parents, my father was a gambler and they were always arguing over money. Every week he would come home with no pay and the fighting would start.”

“I couch surfed at first until people’s generosity ran out. I ended up with nowhere to go.”

“The first night I slept outside was at a park at Strathfield. It was the middle of winter and it was freezing. I begged someone to stay with me…but they were young too and had to go home,” said Nick.

“The last time I became homeless was due to a breakdown of a relationship I was in. I was suffering really bad depression at the time, but I really didn’t see it coming. One minute I had a home, a life and family…and the next minute it was gone.”

Nick began volunteering at HopeStreet before taking on his current part-time position. He is studying a Certificate IV in Community Services, and now has a roof over his head.

“HopeStreet provided me with emotional support. They’ve given me a job, friendship, the ability to study and a safe place with people I trust and people I care about, who care about me.”

“Working here gives me a real sense of positivity and makes me want to be a better person. I love making a connection with people, and how just saying their name puts a smile on their face. I like that I am a first point of contact for many people here,” said Nick. “In all truthfulness I used to look down on homeless people. I used to feel sorry for them, but I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me.”