My story begins as a bus driver, who dreamt of becoming an artist. Things then went wrong at work and I subsequently lost my job, this happened to many other drivers at the same time. As I had savings at this time I did not claim benefits and decided to utilise the money to pursue my dream of being an artist. So I invested all my money in an exhibition. On top of this we gave up our home and lived in our car to save money so it could be invested in the exhibition. We hired a promoter to assist in this event, which was held at the Guildhall and opened by the Mayor in 2015. The promoter turned out to be very unscrupulous and resulted in lots of problems.  As most of my energy was concentrated on dealing with the promoter, this had a detrimental effect on the success of the exhibition.

The consequence was, that we had insufficient income generated from the exhibition, which then meant that we had no money to survive, and still we had to live in our car. At this point I had to apply for benefits. However it took a long time for them to make a decision if I was entitled to receive any benefits. My wife, who was also living in the car with me, managed to get a part time job, but this did not last long due to mitigating circumstances. At this point we were at the point of despair and did contemplate jumping off a bridge and ending it all

A friend then told us about Maggs. We hadn’t eaten or washed for days. Maggs helped us with our benefit claim and enabled us to keep warm and clean – which was very important as the weather was getting colder and there was many a night when there was ice on the inside of the car. My wife also developed septicaemia as a result of living in those conditions. Maggs helped to encourage us to develop our self-respect again. Even by the simple act of having a wash it meant that we could again maintain the acceptable standards of society and be treated as normal. There were times when we could not wash that we felt awkward interacting with society as we felt different. By keeping clean it enabled us to still feel part of society and “normal”. We all take being clean for granted, but when you haven’t got the ability to do this you feel terrible and ostracised. Eating regularly aslo helps develop a sense of normality

Maggs map 1Maggs helped us feel like humans again. They also referred us to the local outreach team who was able to put us into one of their properties. Now we still come to Maggs every now and again to keep up and help where we can. The line drawing you can see above was made by myself as a thankyou present presented to them on their 30th anniversary. It was my way of saying thank you for all of their help

Now I am settled again I can restart my dream of being an artist. I am now learning acrylics, which is a new art style for me.

My advice to anyone who finds themselves homeless is: Don’t give up, never lose sight of your dreams. Seek advice and help from professionals, even if this means swallowing your pride. You need to accept that sometimes we can’t do it all by ourselves, sometimes you need help.

Thank heavens for places like Maggs

Mark is now a successful artist with works in over 200 private and commercial collections in the UK, Australia and USA.

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