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Mark's story

“It was awful. We joke about it now but the person I was four years ago is completely different now.  

At first I was nervous and scared, and hardly spoke to anybody, I had very little confidence at all.”

A man who lost his job, partner, and home, and saw his confidence decrease so much that he wouldn’t look people in the face now works full time as a cycle mechanic at a social enterprise scheme run by The Salvation Army. Mark Wheatley, 46, lost his job as a retail manager in 2011. Within a six month period of trying to find work his relationship with his partner broke down and he found himself homeless. When he first came to Booth House Lifehouse in Swindon, despite finding a warm and friendly welcome, he would stay in his room and shy away from social integration.

However, within a few weeks the father-of-two began volunteering at the Recycles scheme, as he realised he needed to do something. Recycles gives the people who live at Booth House Lifehouse, in Spring Close, the opportunity to learn new skills by refurbishing old bikes and doing repairs for people in the community. Mark began by volunteering on the retail side of Recycles and gradually started to learn cycle mechanics.

The Salvation Army gave Mark the opportunity to complete an NVQ Level 2 qualification in engineering and he now is employed by the church and charity as a cycle mechanic and lives with his fiancee in Swindon. They are getting married this summer.

Mark said: “The Salvation Army is an incredible organisation. They support vulnerable people and if you are willing to put in the effort The Salvation Army will help you to turn your life around. The Salvation Army do so much work that people don’t know about. They help people who are in need get their confidence back by not only listening to them but also helping them in practical ways. 

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