‘I would have been dead’

Once home­less, com­mu­nity worker Dave Hammond asks for more un­der­stand­ing of the is­sue as Anti-Poverty Week wraps up.

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Marissa Ge­or­gopou­los

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.”

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