MEET MAJOR BRENDAN NOTTLE
The Salvation Army's Major Brendan Nottle, Corps Officer of the Melbourne Corps Project 614, has worked tirelessly with society's most vulnerable people for over 10 years. Every week, Brendan can be found on the streets of Melbourne providing support to those in need. In a recent interview, he provides some insight into his life as a Salvo.
How important for your work is the support of the Australian public?
I thank God for the people who support us in all kinds of ways. Just seeing people coming along with ideas, and people wanting to volunteer and get involved, and people making sacrifices to give money for practical help – it’s inspiring! They might think of themselves as just ordinary people, yet their commitment to making a difference makes them extraordinary.
What keeps you going when things get tough, go wrong or you feel let down?
When you scratch beneath the surface you see people who’ve experienced absolute hell in their life. I often think to myself if I was in their shoes, would I be able to keep going? I get inspired by their incredible resilience in the face of huge issues - serious mental health issues, horrific abuse and trauma that’s been evident in their life for years - and yet they keep going. That’s the remarkable thing. Their stories put my challenges into perspective.
Some people say the problems are too big, and we can’t make a difference. Are they right?
I think people sometimes get confused about what ‘success’ is. We count small wins as huge victories.
For example, there’s one man with mental health issues, and sleeps on the street. He refuses to wear shoes, so he’s always getting his feet cut. His feet get infected badly. The paramedics are called. He gets upset with the paramedics. The police are called. He then goes to the Emergency Department at the hospital. He causes trouble there, so security is called. He ends up being admitted. Sometimes he ends up in the psych unit at the hospital. Then he ends up back on the streets. Then he ends up with infected feet, and then the ambulance is called again. Then the police are called and the story just goes on and on and on.
So our workers and volunteers were really persistent with him, and got him to the point where he was willing to wear rubber thongs. And then they got him a nice pair of sandals.
He’s now started to trust us and we’re able to work with him on his accommodation issues and mental health issues.
WELCOME TO MELBOURNE PROJECT 614
Brendan Nottle leads The Salvation Army Melbourne Project 614, a team of people based in the City of Melbourne, who work passionately with those who live on the fringes of society.
They work with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, those suffering from serious mental health issues, people affected by a range of addiction issues and people who are suffering from social poverty. The team has hundreds of interactions each day with people aged from 9 to 93.
The Salvation Army Melbourne Project 614 provides support by supplying meals, clothing and counseling but also work with clients to help create pathways out of their current state of marginalisation. These pathways include training, volunteering, employment and accommodation options.