A Chester man known only as ‘Mark’, who has been in and out of homelessness for almost 30 years, is preparing to walk 1,000 miles all over the UK to become a “beacon of hope” for thousands more who are experiencing the isolation, deprivation and despair of not having a roof over their head.
Living a life of constant depression and fears, Mark has been one of thousands of people who always slipped through the net and has been unable to get his life back on track.
Aged 49, Mark now looks forward to the unique opportunity to turn his life around and finally be able to do something which will help him back to good health, physically, mentally and spiritually.
When sufficient funds have been raised, Mark will be the recipient of a complete bursary provided by Outdoor Muckers Community Interest Company Social Enterprise, and part of the Outside In collective group of VCFS (Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector) and statutory organisations tackling homelessness and complex needs across the West Cheshire area.
The aim is that in 6-9 months Mark will have achieved good health, physically, mentally and spiritually and have gained worthwhile outdoors vocational qualifications which will put him in good stead to run a business of his own, find a job in the outdoors industry or to remain working with Outside Muckers CIC helping others that might like to follow in his footsteps.
This complete bursary will be managed and paid indirectly, to cover the cost of all his needs like clothing and equipment, accommodation and transport, healthy food, personal and professional coaching and training for outdoors career and business skills.
Founder of Outdoor Muckers CIC Karen Maskall said: “I believe that helping people to help themselves by giving them a hand-up back into meaningful work and to live a healthier lifestyle, surrounded by lots of people who can offer sincere friendship and support is the key to people being able to make lasting change in their lives.”
At the end of the day this will be a huge saving to the UK taxpayer as costs to support the ever rising numbers of homeless people continue to spiral.
In addition to this bursary, Outdoor Muckers is providing a community forum where people can connect, both online and offline, sharing in friendship and nature and directly supporting Mark (and others who follow) as he keeps everybody updated with his progress on a regular basis. This is also a great way for people too see where and how any donations and sponsorships are actually being spent.
Mark, who is currently being supported by Chester Aid to Homeless (CATH) said: “I had given up hope of ever being happy and to be honest, I really thought my life was over. But now I’m so looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to make lots of new friends and to get back to good health by reconnecting with nature.
“I just want to feel valued and to give back to society and to show others that there are things that we can do out there to help ourselves out of homelessness. It’s a matter of opening our minds and engaging with the organisations that are there to help.”
A representative for CATH added: “Mark has done wonderfully well since being off the streets and accommodated by CATH. He is now in secure supported accommodation and is making great strides. We are not surprised he is taking the massive challenge of walking 1000 miles. We wish him well.”
2018 will be a year to remember for Mark. Having already taken a giant leap of faith by doing a skydive recently, his walking itinerary will begin in Chester and surrounding areas then moving to Wales, Cumbria and beyond covering all the UK’s National Parks and favourite walking routes, meeting all his new friends along the way.
Mark will also be paying visits to various local and national organisations to see how they are helping homeless persons in many of the UK counties wherever possible.
If you would like to support Mark, then please consider just a token donation, or simply come along and register for free to Outdoor Muckers CIC community forums and help this journey begin.
£1 will put a healthy drink in Mark’s rucksack, £2 will give him a healthy snack, £5 will feed him for a day, £15 will provide a thermal vest and £20 will cover the cost of accommodation for a night. To support Mark visit www.outdoormuckers.co.uk .