Don't give up: Alex Anderson and George. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Life's tough when you are living on the streets.
It's tougher trying to find a bed for the night when you have a dog in tow. Most hostels don't welcome canine sleepovers.
But for Alex Anderson, it's a tale with a happy ending. On the eve of Homeless Persons' Week, he is no longer part of the statistics which in March showed a 26 per cent increase in the number of people sleeping on the streets of Sydney.
Mr Anderson was living in Jubilee Park, Glebe where he had settled for six months after a relationship breakdown. Now he lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Pyrmont, he has qualified as a forklift truck driver and is about to start a job.
He is also about to become a YouTube celebrity after the charity Professionals 4 People and crisis accommodation hostel Jewish House in Bondi made a heartwarming movie about the transformation of his life.
It starts with Rabbi Mendel Kastel convincing Mr Anderson in February to leave his pitch in the park, sees him arrive at the hostel, get a haircut and new clothes.
Even George, his dog, got checked over by a veterinary surgeon.
Asked about life in the park, he said: "I used to have to stay awake all the time in case I woke up to find my dog had gone. Quiet but not really quiet. Wondering whether someone was going to come and rob you or not.
"I wasn't going to give my dog up. I'd like to thank Jewish House, without them I wouldn't be able to have kept George."
Of his new apartment, he said, "It's the Taj Mahal."
With some advice for others sleeping on the streets, he added: "Don't give up. Never give up. If I can do it, anybody can do it. You have just got to find one person who will help you."
Professionals 4 People, which connects young professionals with charitable organisations that require their services, has launched a campaign called #time4good encouraging people to get involved with their communities.
Founder Lyndi Polivnick said: "I could have spent my time watching TV but I thought I'd do something a bit useful. It has been so worthwhile. I think the video might go viral."
Rabbi Kastel, the CEO of Jewish House, said: "People who are homeless deserve to be treated like everyone else – with respect and care. That is why it is so encouraging to see young professionals using their spare time to support the homeless, a disadvantaged group of people who are very often overlooked by society,”