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Frontline Frontline ISSUE 37 AUTUMN 2010

In this issue... 2 President’s Message 3 Thank you 4 Jack’s Story 6 Scott’s Story 8 Creative corner


THANK YOU! Thank you for your generous support of Matthew Talbot Homeless Services 2009 Christmas Appeal. The generosity of our supporters meant that more people could wake up with a roof over their heads and a meal on the table on Christmas Day. Thank you.

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE I am pleased to share with you this latest edition of Frontline and to thank you for your ongoing support of our work with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. As one of our valued supporters you are making a difference to the lives of those who are struggling. Through your generosity we are able to offer shelter, food, counselling, medical attention, recreation and education to the ever-increasing number of Australians who have no home. Just as importantly, on your behalf, we are able to provide them with things that are less tangible and less easily measured hope and dignity.

He appreciates it, too, and one day recently he spoke about what Matthew Talbot Homeless Services means to him. He passionately declared that services such as ours are a privilege, and one he never took for granted. He said thank you, and in so doing, was really saying thank you to people like you. Another of our clients, Scott, is a young man, who also found himself homeless. Scott used to be a resident of St Vincent de Paul House at Coniston, a homeless service for single men. One of the workers at that service was kicking a soccer ball around with some of the men when Scott wandered up. The rest is the stuff of fairytales. Scott ended up representing Australia at the Homeless World Cup in Italy last year. His life has completely turned around.

For a copy of the Annual Report containing these and more compelling statistics, please contact Paul Cook

One of our oldest clients is Jack, who is well over 90 and turns up each day to eat at the Matthew Talbot Homeless Services hostel in Woolloomooloo in Sydney. A veteran of World War II, carrying the injuries from its battlefields, he chooses – for many and, to most people, incomprehensible reasons – to live on the streets. The causes and solutions to homelessness are complex, and Jack’s determination to sleep rough is a decision our workers respect. We offer him every service we can.


Thank you.

NEWS - FREEMAN HOUSE and still going strong, Louise is now engaged to be married and the couple have just put a deposit on their first house. Louise is now helping people who are disabled in a group home. Your generosity enables Freeman House to provide long-term residential accommodation and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program to help people like Louise. The service has 8 beds for single homeless men and women, and 18 beds for rehabilitation as well as an outreach program which oversees 4 transitional units and supports people in their homes who may still be using drugs, with the intention to minimise harm and nurture them to the stage when they are ready to commit to rehabilitation.

These are everyday stories at Matthew Talbot Homeless Services. They are the stories that continue to inspire us to bring new beginnings to those whose lives are dark and lost.

With your support, Freeman House is in the process of being upgraded. The service will increase its capacity to provide care and assistance to both people who are homeless and people suffering addiction. The new service will be able to assist more clients and is being designed to accommodate future demands and will include a learning centre on the premises.

Louise also found her life transformed after coming to Freeman House in Armidale. She had a major alcohol addiction and her health had seriously deteriorated

At Matthew Talbot Homeless services we see first hand that homelessness is not determined by age, race or gender.

At Matthew Talbot Homeless Services we see first hand that homelessness is not determined by age, race or gender. The men, women and children who use our services are a microcosm of Australia itself. Each day we provide food or shelter to a wide range of people, from newborn babies to the very elderly.

Matthew Talbot Homeless Services will be there for the long-term, helping to give people choices for their future, and to rebuild their lives after the onset of crisis. Thanks to your support, we can continue to do this to a greater effect, together.

Dear Friends,

In the last financial year, Matthew Talbot Homeless Services spent $12.5 million on services for the homeless community. Seventy-five per cent of this expenditure was spent directly on client services such as drug and alcohol counseling, life skills curriculum and healthcare.

at or phone (02) 9568 0234.

when she arrived. Fighting addiction is a painful and difficult challenge, but Louise did it and is now sober and living a life she would have once never imagined was possible.

Thank you. Yours sincerely,

Beverley Kerr President, Matthew Talbot Homeless Services

Alcohol is second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of drug-related death and hospitalisation.

Louise, 45 years, arrived at the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Freeman House in Armidale, extremely malnourished and suffering a severe alcohol addiction. She had just lost her job and had severed her family ties. Her first month at the service was very rough and she was on the brink of giving up and leaving several times. With the support of the staff, she endured, and over 9 months, she flourished. Louise was able to reconnect with the community during 3 months in transitional accommodation. Sober for 18 months

The current building is a 1970’s accommodation block with shared bathrooms and small rooms. The new building, with bright colours and open space will have the aesthetic appeal to create a positive environment for clients who face significant personal challenges and decisions to work towards independent living. Your generosity makes this upgrade possible. Thank you.

For credit card donations visit or phone 13 18 12



“You learn to keep your head down,” he says slowly, recovering from the effort of getting here. “I just mind my business, I don’t go sticking my head into things. You have no trouble that way.”

Incredibly, he is not the only very old client that comes for a meal. Jack doesn’t talk about the past, he feigns incomprehension when the questions bother him, but clearly he is still as sharp as a tack. Lunch today is fish, his favourite dish, and he dines quietly and with dignity, accepting only one special concession, that his meal is brought to him, while the other 200 diners collect their own. He can’t say how long he’s been homeless, and he doesn’t offer up why or how life ended up like this. Apart from a few war stories, vivid in the telling, he’s a private man. Instead, he offers his strong views on many of the young men with whom he shares the streets. “They take this for granted” he says with harsh judgment, pointing around the hostel and the busy, active kitchen. “They think they deserve all this, they think it’s their right.” With the Great Depression of the 1930s behind him, Jack remembers far grimmer



n elderly man, Jack, arrives early for lunch at Matthew Talbot Homeless Services in Woolloomooloo. He shuffles carefully across the dining room and settles himself in his favourite chair against the wall as he does every day. He doesn’t really engage with his fellow diners, apart from a few words of greeting with a couple of older regulars. He’s here for the meal not the company.

What Vinnies does here is a privilege. It is a very special place, and these are very special people who give this to us.


Homeless persons over 55 experience a greater risk of trauma from assault than any other group.

Jack is well over 90 years old and homeless. A veteran of World War II, carrying the injuries from its battlefields, he chooses – for myriad and, to most people, incomprehensible reasons – to live on the streets.

times when being hungry was real, and soup kitchens were meager, grim and humiliating. “This is not their right,” he says with energy. “What Vinnies does here is a privilege. It is a very special place, and these are very special people who give this to us.”

“I live in some of the best bus shelters in Sydney,” he says with smile. “And the best thing is... someone comes each week to clean them.” He laughs at his own wit, oblivious to the sadness his situation engenders in others. He’s well, and must be strong, and there’s nothing he likes more than a joke and a good laugh with someone he feels he can trust.

Jack is a remarkable man, as are all men who have lived almost a century, experiencing extraordinary technical and social change. He’s well spoken, his voice frail, his skin paper thin and his eyes watery. Somehow, he manages to keep his clothes neat and tidy. What is he doing wandering the harsh streets of Sydney? How did one of our nation’s elders fall on such difficult times?

Homelessness is an insidious situation and its causes and solutions are complex and nuanced. Clearly, while Jack ‘chooses’ to sleep rough at night, there are powerful, painful and deep forces shaping his decision. Nevertheless, it is a decision the Matthew Talbot Homeless Services workers have no choice but to respect. The Talbot, of course, offers him a wealth of services, and would have a bed for him in a flash, but Jack is Jack, and this is how he’s living his life.

What the Talbot knows all too well is that there is no one face of homelessness, no one back story, and no one easy road out. Each person is an individual with a history that cannot be undone, and a future yet to be shaped. Jack is sharing part of his present with us; and those who know him, treasure that. His future? It can’t possibly be long, but with luck it will continue to bring him peace and dignity as Matthew Talbot Homeless Services continues to offer him whatever support he will accept. Thank you for your support.

credit card donationsvisit visit oror phone 1313 18 18 12 12 ForFor credit card donations phone




hen Scott Endersby had last picked up a soccer ball, he’d been a natural. As a young boy, he made his mark at his first ever under-7s game and had then kept on scoring to become an A-grade player. His future looked bright, until life’s tragedies cruelly knocked the young boy off course and sent him hurtling headlong into years of chaos, homelessness, drugs and crime. But one afternoon a year or so back, when Scott wandered up to St Vincent de Paul Society staff member Lee Robinson kicking a ball around on a Wollongong Oval with the homeless soccer team he coached, it all came back to him. He picked that ball up and, while he didn’t know it then, he would later realise that that was the moment he also picked back up his life. “I really believe that a ball can change the world,” Scott says, fresh from an extraordinary trip to Milan, Italy, in September to represent Australian in the Homeless World Cup, an international soccer event organised and funded by the Big Issue street magazine. Of 4000 players around the country, Scott was one of two of Lee’s players to make up the eight-person team; a mighty achievement for them both.

Scott used to be a resident of St Vincent de Paul House, at Coniston, a homeless service for single men. Last year, the service provided 160 single homeless men with crisis accommodation and outreach support. It

to me and say ‘Good on you’ and I tell you… I never saw that happening.” He’s drug free, living in his own place, and planning to do a soccer coaching course. He’s reconnected with his family and has his baby son back in his life. And he credits it all to the soccer and to Lee.


The thing about the Homeless World Cup is that people are not chosen to represent their country on their soccer skills alone. It’s as much about attitude, personal goals, integrity and the like. Being chosen is a big vote of confidence in the person, as well as a player.

The pair rolls up their sleeves to show the tattoos they had done to forge their soccer bond: a kangaroo kicking a ball. They’ve shed tears and cheers together;

He’s drug free, living in his own place, and planning to do a soccer coaching course. He’s reconnected with his family...

also provided more than 173,000 meals. Scott credits the service with having been pivotal in his success in rebuilding his life and giving him back his selfesteem.

indeed, there was no way Lee wasn’t going to watch “the boys” play so he paid his own way over to Italy, the players’ costs having been picked up by the The Big Issue.

He’s back visiting today, wearing his official soccer jacket, and reflecting on the giddy and unbelievable ride he has just been on.

The photos and videos of the game tell an amazing and powerful story of adversity overcome, and joy and optimism refound. The Homeless World Cup is open to the marginalized and disadvantaged, and the smiles and laughter captured is testimony to the strength and dignity of the individuals’ spirit. It’s also proof that maybe a ball really could change the world – one person at a time. Thank you!

“I can’t even put in words what this has done for me,” he says. “There’s no going back…You know I’ve even had coppers that know me from my old days come up


Wills and Bequests Please tick the appropriate boxes:

Yes, I would like to receive an information pack about remembering Matthew Talbot Homeless Services in my will. Thank you, I have already included Matthew Talbot Homeless Services in my Will. Please enrol me in ‘Forever Friends of Matthew Talbot Homeless Services’. Please complete the following details and post to: PO Box 259, Petersham, NSW, 2049 Title:

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When he was just 21, Sandra and Paul’s only son got mixed up in the drug scene and ended up homeless. He soon lost touch with his family. Many years later they decided to change their Will to ensure that other homeless people would be looked after. They bequeathed their home to Matthew Talbot Homeless Services to help people just like their son who could be helped. Bequests help us to serve those who are in need in concrete & practical ways.


Teams from more than 60 countries around the world take part in the Homeless World Cup.

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‘Frontline’ is produced by Community and Corporate Relations (CCR), St Vincent de Paul Society NSW. ABN: 46 472 591 335 004 Copyright 2009 Designer: Rachel Anne Irvine Writers: Dane Hiser, Marion Frith, Jessica Moss-Wellington Responsibility for the content of this publication is taken by Julie McDonald. Because we respect the privacy of the people we assist, names in this newsletter may have been changed, stories summarised and pictorial models used. For more information about Matthew Talbot Homeless Services telephone: (02) 9560 8666 or visit: All correspondence can be sent to:

Vietnam Veteran Francis Edwards knows what it is like not to have a stable income and place to call his own. Francis, a talented musician, but changed after the war, had trouble maintaining his financial success and experienced temporary homelessness on a number of occasions. Keen to use his talents to make a difference, Francis volunteered as a guitarist for a choir of homeless people. There he met some extraordinary individuals and was inspired to form his own choir in October 2008, called ‘Veteran Soul’ to give retired veterans a sense of purpose. The choir has just released a CD called ‘Angels Beyond the Abyss’, with songs that offer reflections on

Publications and Design Coordinator CCR, St Vincent de Paul Society PO Box 5, Petersham, NSW, 2049 Email: Printing by Lindwall & Ward Distribution by B&C Mailing

the homeless experience. The CD, available through ABC stores, not only raises funds for homeless services but, through carefully crafted lyrics, breaks down stereotypes associated with people who are homeless and actively encourages people to volunteer. Your support enables homeless people to enjoy music, in collaboration with people like Francis, to express themselves creatively, build their confidence and reconnect with the community.

With your help we can make a difference


Type of donation I would like to make a one-off donation. OR I would like to make a regular donation, through the Circle of Hope regular giving club, on the basis indicated at right:

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To make a one-off or regular donation to Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, simply complete the details below and post to: PO Box 259, Petersham, NSW 2049

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If you wish to enclose a cheque (marked ‘not negotiable’) or money order, please make payable to: ‘Matthew Talbot Homeless Services’. Post to: PO Box 259, PETERSHAM, NSW, 2049


The St Vincent de Paul Society follows the National Privacy Principles. If you do not wish to receive any more mail from us, please tick this box. Vinnies keeps donor information private. Note: Donations over $2 are tax deductible. A receipt will be mailed.