We had a tough life growing up in England because Dad was a drinker. I’ve never had a touch of alcohol in my life because of what I saw. Mum had to put the four of us in an orphanage when we were very young. She would come in on a Sunday with treats that had to be shared with all the children who didn’t have any visitors.
I came to Australia as a Ten Pound Pom in 1952 and haven’t seen my family since, though I used to send money back to Mum. I’m 84 now and in that time I’ve travelled all around Australia working in mining and road camps. They were no place to take a woman or raise children so I’ve never had a family of my own, though I know I would have been a good dad.
In the 70s I moved to Adelaide because they were cutting back on jobs for the older men in the mining towns. Since then I’ve always shared boarding houses with other men. Now they are all much younger than me, and there are lots of mental health problems but that’s not their fault.
Every morning I get up at 5am so I don’t lose my motivation. After a cuppa and a smoke, I head down here [Hutt Street Centre] because everything I need is here. Hutt Street’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Norman Alfred Beer’s story was captured in 2011.
Norm was volunteer in the mid 70s helping to serve morning tea, and for the past 30 years or so, has been a client of the centre.