Formerly homeless man says a big thank you to all of those in the community who reached out and helped him.

Les Nicolls is a familiar face among the local community, apart from working for the Fire Service for 37 years, he helps many good causes. After, reaching out and asking for help to support a homeless man, he would like to say a big thank you on the man’s behalf. Here’s his story.

About two years ago I asked my Facebook followers to help look  after a homeless man in Clacton. I’d met him during a Walk and Talk session that I lead in the Clacton and Tendring area that’s aimed at helping people overcome depression.

Without either drink or drug issues, this man had quite literally shown how quickly we can all slip from having a job and a home, to being homeless and hungry. He had also lost his parents and sister within a few months of each other.

The response I received for support was amazing and the whole community pitched in. Some people donated clothes, others paid for hotel accommodation to keep him out of the bitter cold, some brought him a rucksack and a sleeping bag, others washed his clothes.  Clacton Mental Health Hub provided him with a warm coat, jumper, hat and gloves, Clacton Methodist Church arranged for him to have regular showers, Clacton Foodbank helped feed him, and community members met up with him for conversation. People everywhere tried to help get him a flat.

I was able to take him to Beacon House, a refuge in Colchester, and then onto the wonderful Emmaus. On the same day that he arrived at Emmaus, he was given  a warm room, three square meals a day and money in his pocket, all  in exchange for five days work a week.

I can still recall him phoning me, absolutely elated, saying: ‘Les, last night I was sleeping on a concrete path behind a beach café. Tonight I have a warm room, a clean bed, a TV and a bathroom of my own.’

To end this story, I recently bumped into this man while I was in Colchester. He was painting some offices. After four months at Emmaus, he was able to sort himself out, get a job and save for a deposit to get a flat of his own.  He now has a lovely lady friend, a nice home and is completely back in charge of his life.

He said he had no way of thanking all the people that had helped him.  But, here I am, thanking you all! This is what success and a great community looks like.”

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