WILLIAM Rose will never forget the gut-wrenching feeling of being 18 years old and homeless.
But Mr Rose, 21, has now transformed his life, securing a job, his own flat, a car and a lovely girlfriend.
Yesterday, Mr Rose candidly discussed his experiences on Youth Homelessness Matters Day at Lismore's Flock Espresso and Eats.
After completing his HSC at Woodenbong Central School, Mr Rose said he felt the only way to improve his life was to leave home - living in a caravan with five younger siblings and his father had taken its toll.
"I finished school and then just went on the streets," he said.
"It was rough; it was a bad upbringing.
"I left home and I achieved much more than I would have by staying at home.
"I wouldn't have a job, my own flat, a car or my lovely girlfriend if I stayed at home."
In the depths of despair, Mr Rose experienced the worst of being homeless.
"I've slept under bridges and on park benches," he said.
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"The cold weather and being homeless in the community gets you down."
Fortunately, he wasn't completely alone.
"I was able to stay at a friend's house for a few weeks.
"Then I couch surfed with a couple of families."
Money and drugs soon became serious issues for Mr Rose.
"Money was the hardest thing for me as I would spend it in one day on drugs," he said. "Every once in a while, when I needed food, I had to steal it."
"After being homeless for a few months I eventually got help from Connecting Home."
Mr Rose was placed into transitional housing for 18 months, where he developed life skills.
"My life would be pretty rough without the help from Connecting Home."
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