Mark now works for HARP’s property team but he initially came to our Bradbury Day Centre as a rough sleeper needing support.
Mark found himself on the streets after losing his job and the accommodation that came with it when the owners of the hotel chain he worked for decided to halt their planned expansion and sell the business. So with only two weeks’ notice, and having recently given his savings to one of his children to pay for university, he sofa-surfed with friends for a while before exhausting his options and sleeping rough.
“The little money I had ran out pretty quickly because I wasn’t used to budgeting on that kind of a lifestyle. I later learned to make my money last and live sparsely, just eating a packet of biscuits on some days because I knew that once the money in my pocket was gone, it was gone.”
Mark was on the streets for around a year, which included two winters. At first he didn’t even have a sleeping bag:
“When you’re out there and it’s cold, you’re on your own with no money, and you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, it is tough. You think ‘I don’t want to go on like this’. There were horrible things going on, with homeless people getting beaten up at night and even urinated on. I thought there must be somewhere to go where I can get some real help.”
When Mark found out about HARP’s Bradbury Day Centre, he did whatever he could to get there, knowing that he would be able to get some food, a shower and clothing. He came to our rough sleeper breakfast and our support workers helped get his benefits in place and, after about four months, a room in our emergency short-stay accommodation, where he stayed for a few days before moving into HARP’s longer term supported accommodation whilst waiting to get his own place.
Mark took some of the courses on offer at HARP such as Rent Responsibility, and then started volunteering, cooking lunch on Saturdays and Sundays in our complex needs accommodation. After a while he found out that his skills in construction, renovation and maintenance were greatly needed in HARP’s properties. When he moved on from HARP into his own home, he applied for his current role, working part-time before becoming full-time.
Mark’s job makes the most of his wealth of skills and experience, seeing him doing a range of jobs from decorating rooms before a new resident moves in and painting communal areas, to carpentry work and installing shop fittings in our charity shops.
“I love my job. My work ID badge might just be a bit of plastic but it’s my most prized possession because of what it represents and what HARP did for me. Without them I don’t think I’d be alive right now. I’m forever grateful - HARP saved me.”