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Glen's story: A sense of new belonging

5 December 2017 Stories of hope

When Glen first experienced homelessness in his early twenties, one of the hardest things to cope with was the overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation.

Without a place to call home, Glen no longer felt connected to his local community. As a result, he retreated into his own world, spending days and weeks on his own. His only friends were the stray cats that came purring and meowing … looking for a bite to eat or a warm place to spend the night. Kind and soft-hearted, Glen always looked after them.

Glen and hit cat

Years later, when Glen found transitional accommodation through Wesley Community Housing, he thought back to those early days and found himself once again providing care and compassion for any stray cat that came looking for help … this time in a place of his own.

Lesley is a Tenancy and Community worker with Wesley Community Housing, and says Glen’s affection for stray cats stems from his own experiences as someone who has experienced the harsh reality of homelessness.

“I visited him 4-5 months ago after one of his cats died and he was devastated. We had a coffee and a chat, and Glen opened up to me saying he has a deep compassion for these cats because he understands what it’s like to roam the streets without a friend.”

To help Glen grow in confidence and meet new people, Lesley encouraged him to share his love of cats with the wider community. It wasn’t long until the perfect opportunity came around in the form of the MySydney Photography Competition.

Glen's story calendar

Glen's winning MySydney entry

Glen was one of 100 people impacted by homelessness who were given a single-use camera and encouraged to take photos that shared their unique perspective on life in Sydney.

A few weeks later, Glen received notification that he had been selected as one of the winners of the competition, and two of his photos of cats he called ‘Lucky’ and ‘Mr Raffles’ would be featured in the MySydney Calendar.

When Lesley from Wesley Community Housing saw the calendar for the first time, she was moved by a message Glen had written beside the photos. It was in the voice of Lucky and Mr Raffles, and read…

“Sadly, there are too many of us who have to live our lives out on the streets. Our carer can relate to the daily struggle for survival and the harshness of everyday existence. One day, he hopes to have his own cattery and animal shelter, to be a sanctuary and voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Lesley says that’s not the only dream Glen has for the future. As he grows in confidence, Glen hopes to one day find a permanent residence for himself – so he can continue contributing to his community, and perhaps provide a comfortable place to sleep for another cat or two.