Locals rally to give homeless man a life off the streets

Milton was homeless for more than 18 months. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Milton was homeless for more than 18 months. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

IMAGINE a life without a mobile phone, hot showers or Netflix.

Now imagine a life with even less – no electricity, food, warm bed and roof over your head.

For Milton, a life without the bare necessities had become the norm.

Homeless for more than 18 months, just two weeks ago the 52-year-old was sleeping at a local park in Canning Vale, with nothing but a thin sleeping bag to protect him from the elements.

But Milton is one of the lucky ones.

Locals rallied to help Milton. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

Thanks to the generosity of locals he now has somewhere to call home.

About 9000 people in Western Australia sleep ‘rough’ on any given night, with those in the Perth CBD more likely to be subject to violent crimes such as assaults and unprovoked attacks.

Milton said he felt safe living in the suburbs with the security and charity of residents who would often offer him food, money, blankets or a hot cuppa.

When asked what happened, Milton says it was a chain of unfortunate events.

“About eight years ago the rent for the place I was staying at in Vic Park doubled,’’ he said.

“Then I started gambling which didn’t help and then shortly after that the place I was working at closed down and I lost my job.”

Milton said he stayed with friends in Queens Park and Gosnells, before he was forced to live in his car.

“Once the car rego expired and the traffic fines piled up, I became homeless,’’ he said.

Homeless people in Perth CBD are more likely to be subject to violent crimes. Picture: iStock

Milton’s luck changed recently when two complete strangers (unknown to each other) stepped in to help.

Canning Vale mum Kate Bridson bumped into Milton outside Livingston Marketplace one day and instantly felt compelled to do something.

“He’s quite the celebrity in Canning Vale, everyone knows him and genuinely takes an interest in him, often stopping for a chat,’’ she said.

“One night I came up with a crazy idea to find him a home, so he could sleep in a nice warm bed like the rest of us.”

Orphaned at 13 in Kings Cross, NSW, Kate knows too well the struggles of finding your way.

She hitch hiked from Sydney to Perth when she was 15 and arrived with nothing but her tent and bag of belongings.

“Everyone deserves a second chance and Milton is no different,’’ she said.

Her regular updates about Milton on the Canning Vale Chat Facebook page, got the attention of Willetton man Geoff Chellew, who out of the blue offered to take Milton in.

“I’ve got a three-bedroom house and two bedrooms are empty so I thought ‘why not?’,” he said.

About 9000 people in Western Australia sleep ‘rough’ on any given night. Picture: iStock

No stranger to opening up his home, Geoff housed another homeless man for two years.

Milton said he was humbled by Kate and Geoff’s selfless acts of kindness and said he had made two friends for life.

A GoFundMe page set-up by Kate has raised more than $1280 of its $3000 target, which will help Milton pay his share of the rent.

Kate said she was thinking of starting a local ‘army’ where residents, shop owners and businesses joined together to combat homelessness.

“Together we can all make a difference,” she said.

“People need real help on the ground.

“But I’ve always believed in the theory of ‘hand up not hand out’. This is what myself and others have done for Milton.”

While Kate and Geoff have given Milton hope for the future, it was now up to him to reclaim his life.

Milton said he looked forward to one day joining the workforce again and possibly going to see a movie.

“But I’ll take each day as it comes and just keep a positive outlook,’’ he said.

To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/milton-gets-a-house. 

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