Ray has seen more tough times than most. Having battled drug use, homelessness and family tragedy, the support of the St Vincent de Paul Society has helped during his darkest hours.
Becoming a father to a son by the time he was 20, while also caring for the daughter of his then-partner, a decline in the relationship saw things take a turn for the worse.
“I experimented with drugs from school, but it never got really out of hand until I lost custody of my son. After that I spent quite a number of years lounging between people’s houses before ending upon the streets,” Ray said.
During this time, he had his first interaction with the Society.
“I learnt on the streets that I could get a food parcel and they would point me in the right direction. In many ways Vinnies has been a lifesaver for me.”
Ray managed to get back on his feet, staying clean for 15 years and reconnecting with his son. But when his daughter suicided, he spiralled back into drug use.
“It started with just dabbling, and the next thing I was stuck in a situation where I was getting so sick that I had to use to function. I wasn’t trying to kill myself, but it was the direction I was going,” Ray said.
“I knew my son was disappointed every day, and that felt terrible. Knowing that there were people out there that cared brought me back on the path to recovery.”
With our support, along with his family and “good medical people,” Ray is now getting back on track.
“At Vinnies I can get real stuff which helps on the spot – a packet of cornflakes, tea, coffee, a bus fare, petrol money,” he said. “If you’re below par income-wise, it really affects your morale. Vinnies representatives will turn up and unconditionally assist in whatever way they can.”
Ray is optimistic about the next chapter of his life and hopes to a return to work as a labourer.
“I’m trying to maintain a healthy routine, eating-wise, sleeping-wise. I’m excited to get back into work.”