‘I would have been dead’
Once homeless, community worker Dave Hammond asks for more understanding of the issue as Anti-Poverty Week wraps up.
AT ONE point in his life Dave Hammond slept rough, didn’t change his clothes for two weeks and went “days and days” without a proper meal.
Mr Hammond, 52, of Bidwill, said he was 16 when he ran away from his singleparent household in Tasmania.
“Mum was great but I just flipped out,” he said.
As Anti-Poverty Week wraps up, Mr Hammond, now the Jesuit Social Services in Western Sydney general manager, has made an impassioned plea to the community to “don’t judge”.
He struggled without a home or a plan. A pinball parlour manager would leave food outside for him and a woman later hired him as a motel porter.
“She said ‘I’ll give you a job but you can’t dress like that’. She bought me two sets of black and whites.”
Days later, he ate something after two old women tipped him 50 cents.
Mr Hammond said there were times he thrived and others where he felt “embarrassed and ashamed” and “took things to deaden” that.
He eventually went home to his Mum and four siblings. After a visit to a drop-in centre he became a volunteer.
Mr Hammond said without those who saw beyond his situation he “would have been dead”.
“People reached out, made space, were kind, generous and gave me a go … I am profoundly grateful.”