Wattle Grove homeless man bags community support

JOHN'S NEW FAMILY STAND BEHIND HIM: Phillip Watson, John, Helen Stacey, Christopher and Colleen Sparrow with their children. Picture: Simon Bennett
JOHN'S NEW FAMILY STAND BEHIND HIM: Phillip Watson, John, Helen Stacey, Christopher and Colleen Sparrow with their children. Picture: Simon Bennett

Some Wattle Grove residents have rallied around a homeless man to help him build a new life.

Jovan (known as John) Cavic became street-bound after family strife. This led to losing his job, his family and his home.

But there’s a happy ending after a group of new friends arranged accommodation, belongings and food.

OUT IN THE COLD: John camps behind a service station in Wattle Grove until he moves into a unit in Liverpool. Picture: Simon Bennett

OUT IN THE COLD: John camps behind a service station in Wattle Grove until he moves into a unit in Liverpool. Picture: Simon Bennett

Among them were Chris Sparrow, his wife Colleen and their six children. Mr Sparrow said when they began helping John two months ago, it was a challenge due to his limited English.

But Serbian-speaking Michael Andjelkovic volunteered as translator. “The three of us shot it off and a friendship has grown out of it. It all started when I came home upset after seeing the way John was living. I decided to approach him and help.  I saw his situation as a chance to help someone and give back.” 

The Holsworthy dad of six kids struggled with problems during his childhood.

“My upbringing wasn't the best and I wanted to do more for the community. It's actually inspired me. I want to help more disadvantaged people after this.”

Mr Sparrow posted about John’s situation on Facebook and people donated items.

“So far we've achieved housing for him. I set up a meeting with his son and now his family will be renting a unit for him. The lovely people of Wattle Grove and Holsworthy have kindly donated food, furniture and household items.

“You know, we also got some horrible comments on Facebook. We’ve seen the best and worst of the community come out of this.”

He said many misunderstood homelessness. But his family’s relationship with John was proof of his kind and caring nature. “My children are like his grandchildren. They aren't scared of him – they’ve grown to love him.”

Another community helper was Helen Stacey who’s been bringing him coffee and blankets. RNR Rentals Liverpool provided John with a truck to collect and transport furniture to the apartment.

A Vinnies worker spotted John. “We saw him as a rough sleeper and in 10 days we got a bed for him at our refuge for a couple of weeks,” said St Vincent de Paul’s Phillip Watson, of Liverpool men’s refuge. “But an accident with one of his pets traumatised him and he returned to where we found him.”

The community has helped find John a pet-friendly unit at Liverpool and he’s due to move in this week. “He’s getting incredible help from the community who’ve stepped up. It’s been amazing.”

John said he’s overwhelmed and that his new friends are now part of his family.

  • Assistance to John via Chris Sparrow, hopefulhomesdonations@gmail.com.