Scheme helped us turn our lives around

Two men who were living on the streets last year have turned their lives around through a community business scheme.

Kim Briscoe

Two men who were living on the streets last year have turned their lives around through a community business scheme.

The journey Glenn Mace and David Martin have made from living rough to becoming respected members of the workforce at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has been hailed a success - and as an inspiration to others who find themselves in a similar position.

Both men were taken on by Serco, a contractor for the hospital which provides cleaning, catering and portering services, last year as part of the Business in the Community (BITC) initiative.

Now, six months down the line, they are both full time members of staff.

Mr Mace, 41, who lives in a move-on flat, part of Stonham Housing homeless accommodation, in Wymondham, works as a kitchen porter at the hospital.

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Once the owner of a craft stall, he found himself homeless five years ago after a relationship ended bitterly.

Today, he said the BITC scheme had transformed his life.

He said: “It's totally changed my life around. I'm getting back on my feet and I've got structure to my life.

“From being on the streets to being in a hostel, it's taken a long time to get out of it and deal with it and at some points I thought I was going to die out there.

“But now I've got a sense of self worth again and it's good that companies are willing to give people a chance because people can end up on the street for no end of reasons, sometimes it can just be hard times, and I'm glad that there's people like that who give you a chance.

David Martin, 34, who lives in the YMCA in Norwich, found himself homeless after he lost his job from a glass firm last June.

He lived on the streets for a few days before he got himself into the hostel on St Giles Street. He now works as a ward caterer at the hospital.

Mr Martin said: “Since I lost my job, everything went down the plug hole and I got this opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands.

“It's changed my life. I was down in the dumps and it's got me back on my feet and I'm doing more things now than I ever anticipated doing. I feel I've bettered myself now.”

The pair have both been praised by the firm.

Chris Paul, of Serco, said: “They've proved themselves to be reliable, hardworking, full of fun and have earned respect from everybody.

“Every member of staff respects them and thinks highly of them and they are part of our workforce.”

t Have you turned your life around after being on the streets? Call Evening News reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email