Gary Castles saved by a caring community
In our consumerist me-first society, his struggle to get off the streets, return to education and become a productive member of society is a lesson to us all.
While many of us avert our eyes whenever we see a homeless person, his life illustrates that with a bit of love and help from strangers, people can get their lives back on track.
Despite early setbacks in his life, Mr Castles’ future looked bright with a career as a chef in an upmarket Sydney hotel.
However, a back injury quickly saw that unravel when he looked to alcohol as a crutch. It wasn’t long before he joined the ranks of the country’s homeless.
After five years, he found help in the form of a former partner, a loving wife and the Lismore Soup Kitchen. He has now put down the bottle, returned to education and, like the rest of us, sleeps in a warm bed every night.
While there are no current numbers on just how many people sleep rough on the Northern Rivers, they are there each and every night under our bridges and in our parks.
The only difference between many of these people and Mr Castles is that someone gave him a second chance.
This is why The Northern Star has been campaigning for a homeless shelter and is helping to organise the Great Homeless Sleepout at Lismore Square this Saturday.
We all know the proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Likewise, it takes a community to help the disadvantaged, to allow them to once again climb the ladder of opportunity that the Lucky Country offers. It is time each of us asked, what can I do to help.