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From the car to a home: Rhett’s road to independence

Rhett’s cheeky and extremely dry sense of humour belies the difficulties he has faced in recent years. His ability to deadpan one-liners demonstrates his intelligence and quick wit.

Q: “What brought you to St Bart’s?”

Rhett: “The police.”

Amid the dry humor, Rhett has been working with St Bart’s since September 2020 to get his life back on track after a relationship breakdown led to him living in his car.

It was while asleep in a carpark in Mandurah that a chance encounter with a ranger set him on the path to St Bart’s.

“People living on the street don’t usually get the support they need through the people they meet – the police, the ambulance services. But there was a really cool ranger in Mandurah who got called out to my car when I was sleeping in it, and she gave me a little card with who I could contact for help,” he said.

This act of humanity eventually led to Rhett calling the Homeless Helpline (1800 065 892) and being directed to St Bart’s.

“St Bart’s has changed my life – they really have. Having somewhere stable to stay, there are really good support staff here. The opportunities St Bart’s can lead you towards are really important.

“I do understand the men’s service is a stepping-stone and I have been using it for ages, but it’s also only been in the past two or three months that I have felt, and I use this term very loosely, normal.

“St Bart’s has definitely helped me a lot – where would I be without them? Possibly in jail, that is a big possibility. I have really come a long way in the last year.”

As part of his road back to independence, Rhett volunteers in St Bart’s Café Lime two days a week and will shortly be undertaking barista training thanks to a collaboration between St Bart’s and a social enterprise.

Having also recently signed a lease on a St Bart’s community housing apartment, Rhett said his outlook on life had definitely brightened.

“I still don’t know exactly where I will be in a year’s time but at least I am thinking about it. I have some hope and it’s just nice to have that option – it didn’t feel like I had a future when I came here,” he said.

“I do tend to be a smart arse though. Now, I get $50 for doing this interview, right?”

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