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Rick was once the owner of three successful businesses, but his life changed forever when the recession hit and within a few months he had lost everything.

And so, just before Christmas, Rick found himself sleeping rough on the streets of Belfast. Losing hope and facing a bleak future.

Luckily, Rick was approached by the Welcome Organisation’s Street Outreach team who were able to offer practical advice and immediate assistance.

“Within days I had a hostel bed which was a start. I was so desperate for work I had applied for over 70 jobs with little success. But, as fate would have it, a local radio journalist was doing a piece on homelessness and picked up on my story.  Luckily a local businessman was listening to the radio. He heard my story and felt compelled to help, so he arranged an interview for me with one of Belfast’s most prestigious hotels. At last I’d got a job!

“It felt like a miracle to me; the fitting together of all these jumbled-up jigsaw pieces so that a clear picture emerged from the chaos. Now I have a way of changing my circumstances and I’ve broken through the glass ceiling that often prevents the homeless from finding work.

 If someone had told me years ago that at some stage in my 50’s I would be homeless and penniless I would have laughed in their face. I admit that before it happened to me I had a bad attitude to people who were homeless.  I thought they were all druggies and criminals. But now I know from experience that they’re not; they’re just people who have fallen on hard times. I’ve been there and it has taught me a valuable lesson:  Life is very fragile; in a moment everything can change. If it happened to me, it could happen to anyone.”

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