Nanjing Night Net

DANGER: Discarded needle at the old Jolly Roger in King Street, Newcastle.

CONVERSATION isn’t the best tool to understand how a 36-year-old man ended up living among the rotting ruins of the old Jolly Roger nightclub.

He’s a man of few, often confused, words, but his eyes tell you everything you need to know about him.

The man said he used to earn a solid wage as a builder’s labourer before things turned bad a few years ago.

Since then he has spent his time staying with friends throughout the Lower Hunter and squatting in the city’s derelict buildings.

He has spent two weeks sleeping on a dilapidated couch behind a wall of the former shopping village.

“It’s OK when you don’t have any money,” he said. The man hoped to secure a Department of Housing property next week.

His mate, 28, said he lived at the Hunter Village site a couple of years ago but now had permanent accommodation in Maitland.

“I still come down to visit,” he said.

Wesley Mission chief executive Keith Garner said the causes of homelessness were multiple and varied: “From Wesley Mission’s experience and research there is a strong probability that if you are homeless as a child you are likely to be homeless as an adult and find it difficult to form meaningful relationships as an adult.”

Wesley Mission helps about 10,000 people in the Hunter annually.

“We quite often find that a homeless person needs some of the services, apart from a roof over their heads.”