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A concierge’s life

10 August 2018

For Evren and Chez, two of the Salvos’ concierges, life has started again.

Simon Chung with Cheryl and Evren

Chez: Most of the people I meet on the street, I’ve lived with them, or I’ve used with them.

Major B and Sandra [Majors Brendan and Sandra Nottle] gave me a chance and I thank God for them. I was a drug addict and they walked with me through pain for 16 years. Now, I want to do that with others.

They have really helped me and my daughter, and I find being a concierge really rewarding. To get results you have to be frank; you tell people who you are and what you are here for. I wouldn’t change it – I’ve had hard days and left here in tears sometimes.

Our neighbours are warming up to us – they’re happy we’re here. We clean up any mess our clients make. We get people on board, they feel the love and they feel worthy.

I’m 69 this August, and I love my job. It’s hard work but I wouldn’t swap it for anything. We’ll make the Salvos so proud of this program.

Some days, like I said, I struggle. Street life is different than your life. We look at life differently and feel things differently. The homeless are my family.

We work as a team, the concierges. They’re part of my life now.

Evren: I came to Australia when I was 16 and I didn’t speak English. I became alienated and disenfranchised from my step-family, and ended up on the streets for decades. I’m 38 now; it’s been a hard life.

The Salvation Army helped me with accommodation and English classes. Anthony McEvoy really helped save my life. He helped me with short-term accommodation, but it didn’t work for me back then.

I ended up back at The Salvation Army later, at Upton Road in St Kilda.

I was offered a concierge job, and I am learning while we work on the paperwork. I sit and watch the concierges; they do a fantastic job.

Homeless people feel appreciated; they are comfortable with the concierges; we have lived their life.

Being employed is amazing; I am overwhelmed. I have been on the streets, and most people did not care. This place, Melbourne Project 614, it is different.

We invite people in, we get them a hot meal and somewhere to rest where they won’t get bashed. We get them help.

I am still in pain. I will be honest. It helps to have this job, and to have stuff to do. If I help out, I feel better about my life. It’s great.

I had nothing to look forward to – nothing. I was abandoned. The Salvation Army helps me to come out of my pain. I have things to live for now. I have responsibilities now.