Shopping for change

September 28, 2018

There are currently more than 7,000 volunteers helping make a difference at Salvos Stores, and it’s making a difference in their lives, too. 


I know how easy it is to become homeless. After moving from Broome to Perth, I struggled to secure a rental and was soon made homeless, along with my best friend. We slept rough—in the car and in a squat without power or heating, and sharing food.

It’s a vicious cycle. No-one wants to hire you or rent to you when you are homeless, but these two things are essential to getting back on track.

During this time, I signed up to work for the dole and found weekend bar work which helped pay for food. It wasn’t enough. With no current address, minimal or no rental references and making below the minimum wage, we never really had a chance.

However, the tide turned and after seven months of being homeless I was hired as casual assistant with The Salvation Army which then enabled me to finally secure a rental property. I was dedicated and passionate in my role, and was promoted to store manager. I was able to save enough money for a house deposit, enabling me to buy a house with my sister, and I haven’t looked back since.

Having somewhere to live and being employed not only gave me a sense of direction but also the ability to ensure I wouldn’t have to face homelessness again.
When people ask for my advice, I would just say that when you meet someone who  is homeless, have compassion. Sometimes all they need is for someone to take a chance on them. I’m living proof of that!



I came in to [a Salvos Store] to buy some furniture—and never left. I am a psychology lecturer from Hong Kong where I worked for two years alongside The Salvation Army, mentoring and establishing best practices for supporting underprivileged kids. 

So, when I found myself in a Salvos Store buying a couch, I jumped at the chance to volunteer. I’m currently looking for a job in my field and am able to work around my interviews. The team at Salvos Stores have been doing all they can to help me find my feet here. 

I was a DJ living in the Northern Territory when I was involved in a near-fatal accident, which required many months of recovery. As part of my rehabilitation,
I wanted to do something that was useful, interesting and that challenged me. 

After seeing the volunteer sign in the window, I got the okay from my support worker to volunteer in-store a few hours a week. The staff have been very supportive of my physical limitations and have worked with me to find activities that suit me.

I love contributing and meeting different people—and I can’t get over the awesome stuff you can get in an op shop!

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Vol. 139, No. 14 // 11 April 2020

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