Dave meets plenty of people in his life on the streets, but his only real mate is his greyhound Timba.
The homeless man and his dog have been living in Mandurah’s Smart Street Mall for about two months and are desperate for crisis accommodation or a room to rent.
But things have been especially tough for Dave since he was robbed during a five day stay in Bunbury Hospital last week.
He was visiting Busselton with a friend when he collapsed from stomach pains. It turned out he had intestinal gangrene and had a 90 centimetre section of his bowel removed.
It was major life-saving surgery, but while he was in hospital he had his swag knocked off.
I’ve been meaning to write a big sign to thank the good people of Mandurah for giving Timba dog biscuits and tinned food and that.Homeless man Dave
“I had a good police torch, a hand-held scanner, deodorant and a hairbrush, about $60 cash and about an ounce and a quarter of gold taken,” he said.
“I was only in there for five days, I was out on the sixth day.”
He said he was determined to get out as quickly as possible and non-profit Halo organised a lift for him to get back to Mandurah to be reunited with Timba.
But Peel Connect chairwoman Doreen Jones said she was shocked Dave was discharged with nowhere to go after such serious surgery.
“What I’m cranky about is that they actually let him go in his condition without organising something else,” she said.
“I think we really need crisis accommodation in Mandurah, and maybe even a drop-in centre for winter as well and it’s not just accommodation, but a place where we can support people, whether it’s for employment, whether it’s with financial planning, or if it’s for substance addiction or counselling or health support.
“It has to be, ‘Here’s a bed and what else do you need? How else can we help you?’”
Dave, who reckoned he had been on the streets for over three years, said there were so many homeless people in Mandurah, the city was crying out for more crisis accommodation.
“Halo’s got a shelter and I know there’s a few houses in Rockingham, so there is some but it’s just hard,” he said.
“It’s hard, especially when you have a dog.
“They don’t allow him, that’s where it’s difficult for me anyway, and I won’t get rid of the dog.”
- Mandurah Catholic College has help for the homeless in the bag
- Mandurah's PeelConnect thanks region’s homelessness workers
- Mandurah set to get homeless shower facility in Tuart Avenue in early 2018
Dave, who turned 50 in February, travelled to Mandurah to be near his dad, who was gravely ill and living in Dudley Park.
He couldn’t really explain how he wound up on the streets, but said he used to have a job years ago before falling ill.
“I wasn’t on the dole, I just had problems, so I just locked myself away in the shed and didn’t go out for 20 years,” he said.
When asked what kept him going, he said: “Timba, my self-motivation, I’m strong-willed and strong-minded, and I’m always thinking positive”.
“You’d be surprised what people can bring out of themselves when they need to,” he said.
“And I get on with people because I don’t judge them by the past.
“There’s no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.”
Most of all, Dave wanted to thank the people of Mandurah, who had helped him look after Timba.
“The folks from the shops on Smart Street Mall, they help me out, they know Timba and all the people of Mandurah who walk down the mall here, they know him and say hello to us,” he said.
“They give us dog food, which I’d like to thank them for.
“I’ve been meaning to write a big sign to thank the good people of Mandurah for giving Timba dog biscuits and tinned food and that.
“And for helping me out with a bit of cash now and then.”
People in crisis needing urgent help can call the Crisis Care helpline on 9223 1111 or 1800 199 008.