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How a man has transformed his life from living in a car with alcoholism

todayNovember 3, 2020 11

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A Lynn-based homeless charity has helped transform the life of a 55-year-old man who was living in a car and struggling with alcoholism.

Two weeks before the first national lockdown in March, Martin, who did not wish to reveal his surname, contacted the Purfleet Trust asking for support.

Martin, a former chef, referred to a “desperate situation” which took him decades to reach out for help. His problems stemmed from a traumatic episode in which he was mugged and thrown off a roof, resulting in both legs being very badly broken.

The Purfleet Trust at Austin Fields in King's Lynn has helped transform the life of a 55-year-old man
The Purfleet Trust at Austin Fields in King’s Lynn has helped transform the life of a 55-year-old man

He moved to Lincolnshire and went into catering but felt isolated and found himself gradually spiralling into addiction.

On his injuries when he was an officer chef in the navy, Martin said: “It was career-ending. Because it is so flat, and I couldn’t manage hills.

“I felt very insecure and Vodka acted like a blanket.”

Having arrived at Purfleet with no confidence, Martin is embracing a huge variety of E-learning courses over lockdown in a variety of areas. He is completing his distance learning course; Level 2 in Mental Health Awareness and has now secured volunteering roles with two prominent local charities.

Lucy Shaw, Purfleet training and employability co-ordinator, said: “Martin came to us a couple of weeks before lockdown and he had a moving story behind him. He was in the forces for many years before his health deteriorated, doctors told him he was so ill that he may never walk again.

“After Martin’s initial assessment with us he moved into one of our Pathways Training Houses. Here Martin had the support of an independent living coach and he really worked hard to turn his life around throughout the lockdown months.”

His aspiration is to work in health and social care, having previously found long hours working in a factory was detrimental to his mental health.

Mrs Shaw added: “We spoke about how it was a great way for him to gain some experience and get an idea of which direction in health and social care he would like to go in.

“After applying for a couple of different positions, he got call backs from both in under a week, and since then his confidence has soared.”

Martin was brought up in a seaside town in Devon. He became an officer chef in the navy, which was all he had ever wanted to do, with a real love for cooking and having been the first boy to do home economics at his school.

He has fully identified the triggers for his addiction and wants to share that experience to help others.

Martin said: “The biggest obstacle to overcoming addiction is when you are surrounded by people who think it’s impossible. The Purfleet people changed that.”

His final advice to anyone facing difficulties is: “Do not let your past dictate your future – but that experience offers a possibility to do some good.”

Purfleet Trust work with hundreds of people each year and support them with housing, food, clothing, employability skills, independent living skills and a range of workshops and courses.

They believe everyone should have access to a decent and affordable place to live.

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