Real people, real stories
Although his family was happy and he remembers his parents as being caring and supportive, as a child Norman had a significant speech impediment and he was bullied and isolated at primary school.
He found high school less socially challenging though – as five eighth and captain of the school rugby team, he found it much easier to make friends. Norman graduated with good marks, and went on to work for the City Council and later the State Government as a public servant.
He bought his first car, and started seeing a pretty girl. His life was just like anyone else’s. Things changed a little over ten years ago.
Norman found himself in a ‘situational crisis’ without any help. Suddenly homeless, he felt lonely and despondent and like he had no reason to continue living. Without friends or family nearby, he contacted police for help. He was admitted to hospital and was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. With medication, Norman’s condition improved, and he moved in to a homeless shelter. Still feeling isolated, Norman began visiting the Rosies van.
He found a steady and comforting presence among the volunteers, and visiting Rosies became part of Norman’s routine. In 2005, Norman moved into community housing and found the stable home base he needed. Initially placed in a boarding house, Norman later moved into his own studio apartment. Since then, he has enrolled at university and is currently completing a degree in justice studies. He continues to spend time with his ‘friends on the street’, saying that the regular social contact helps to keep him healthy.
‘I think the strongest medication there is is other people.’ – Norman