Brian's story

“I was a BBC cameraman for over thirty years. I started off as an electrician before my cousin, Errol Brown, the singer with Hot Chocolate suggested I should learn how to do lighting by going on tour with them as a lighting technician. After that I went to America and worked at Universal Studios for a while before getting a job for the BBC as a lighting gaffer. From there I went onto being a technical operator for news and current affairs learning everything from remote cameras to sound engineering. I did film work for Sky, London Weekend Television and various other production companies. I even worked at Pinewood studios for a while.

Just before I retired though I separated from my wife and then my brother died, and I fell into a depression. It was a situation that I just wasn’t used to. I didn’t know how to handle it, and so after all that, having three houses, plenty of money and a grand career I ended up on the streets for a couple of weeks. I’m living proof that it can happen to anyone but I managed to drag myself out of it. I found help from the mental health charity Mind and Crisis supported me back into housing. Afterwards I started volunteering for Crisis and that really helped me move on. Now I’m working as a Community Liaison Officer for the Labour Party in Croydon and I’m hoping to become a councillor.

Unfortunately some people in similar situations don’t get the right help at the right time and they can fall into drugs and things like that. I want to help those people so we campaign on issues surrounding mental and health and homelessness, and we’re trying to get a bill through parliament that changes the current government criteria on vulnerability so that people can get help sooner and not get caught in the wrong traps.

By the grace of God I feel like I’m fully recovering now. It’s like I’ve gone full circle.”

Brian, Croydon.

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