Men’s Hostel becomes a place of hope and recovery for James - St Vincent de Paul Society QLD
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    Men’s Hostel becomes a place of hope and recovery for James

    James Neilson returned to the Men’s Homeless Hostel in South Brisbane to share his story of homelessness and turning his life around.

    Brisbane resident James Neilson’s first experience at the Vinnies Men’s Homeless Hostel in South Brisbane was during his darkest moments – a drinking addiction had left him with nothing but a backpack full of clothes and a doona.

    “I was spiraling downhill – it felt like the world had defeated me,” he said.

    But revisiting the Hostel on Peel Street years later; this time as just a visitor; James said the memories were more pleasant than painful.

    “Being here brings back feelings of comfort – every time walked through the front door, it meant I had a place to sleep that night,” he said.

    “It’s also the place where I decided to turn my life around and began of my journey of recovery.”

    The Peel St Hostel has been a place of security and comfort for many Brisbane residents like James who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets, making it the perfect venue for this year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout event on 17 June.

    For the first time ever, the Hostel will host the Brisbane event, giving local CEOs and business and community leaders a first-hand look at life inside a men’s shelter as they raise funds to support vital homelessness services.

    “When I lost everything and was sleeping in a local park, I just assumed there was no support out there for someone like me,” James said.

    “The Hostel not only gave me somewhere secure to sleep each night, the staff there were very supportive and really helped me on the road to recovery.

    “My experience there led me to get serious about breaking my addiction and once I left, I immediately checked into rehab.”

    While not the fairy tale ending some may hope for, James said he’s in a far better place and is now living in community housing.

    “I still have my ups and downs, but I’ve grown as a person along the way and I’m in a much better place,” he said.

    James says life can still be a struggle, but he’s in a much better place after seeking support from Vinnies.

    “Becoming homeless makes it so much harder to get help – you don’t have a fixed address so you can’t get Centrelink and you don’t have any money or good clothes or computer, making it really hard to apply for jobs.

    “The funds Vinnies raises through the CEO Sleepout are really important – I don’t know where I’d be if they weren’t there to help me at my lowest moments.”

    For more information about Vinnies CEO Sleepout, or to register, visit