This interview with Ron Sewell is part of an oral history project celebrating 25 years of the Homeless Persons Information Centre [HPIC]. The project was conducted in 2009. HPIC was a telephone referral service operated by the City of Sydney for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. The HPIC telephone referral service was able to assist Ron on his discharge from prison by ascertaining there were no hostel beds available and then directing him to the YWCA for temporary accommodation and other assistance. He discusses that experience in the excerpt below.
I was in custody in one of Her Majesty’s prisons in New South Wales and at the time of my release I was taken to the front gate in a set of gaol prison greens and given ten dollars and said, “All the best”. Yes, standing out in the public in gaol greens, and with ten dollars in your pocket, people tend to stare at you. I had my wallet on me and I went through my wallet and I had an old card from the Homeless Persons line [Homeless Persons Information Centre]. So, I rang them and I told them my situation, they put me on hold for a little while, they rang around and said, “Sorry, we can’t get you into hostels, men’s hostels, because they’re all full, because it’s wintertime”. But the lady on the line said that there is a woman from the YWCA Homeless Brokerage Programme would like to have a talk to me. So, I got on the phone and I explained my situation and straight away she asked could I get my way into the city, which I did. After a short period of time was sitting down at their head office in Wentworth Street in Sydney. I was taken upstairs, given accommodation, food. I had no civilian clothing at the time; gave me a couple of T-shirts so I wouldn’t have to wear green, green everywhere. Mate, she went above and beyond, you know, the help, for a person like myself.