A man who used to live on the streets is urging Melton people to support a homeless charity which he credits with saving his life.
Mark Dagley now works for Emmaus Leicestershire and Rutland, which saves thousands of items of furniture from the tip every year and sells them in its shops.
And he now wants people throughout the borough to donate unwanted items such as wardrobes, beds and three-piece suites so they can be sold at the Market Place shop to help others like him.
Mark said the offer of a job by Emmaus enabled him to get off the streets and rebuild his life.
“We’re asking people to take a look around their house, sheds, lofts and garages – if they have any quality furniture they don’t need, they can call us to book a free collection from their home,” he said.
“Emmaus has given me a purpose, a place I can call home and independence.
“They don’t care about your past here, all they care about is helping us to have a fresh start.
“I’m excited for the future thanks to Emmaus.”
Emmaus provides a home, support and meaningful work for 16 formerly homeless individuals like Mark, known as companions.
Some stay for a while as they gain confidence and skills before they are ready to move on to independent living while others are in need of longer-term support and are able to stay for as long as they need to.
When Mark was at his lowest point, the charity’s support made all the difference: “I grew up in Leicestershire.
“My life was pretty normal until the breakdown of a relationship with my girlfriend meant I became homeless.
“I ended up sleeping rough on and off for about seven months.
“I used to sleep in the toilet in a park.
“I never really knew where I was going to be from one day to the next.
“The public can be very kind, but many treat you as if you are dirt on the floor and turn their faces from you as they walk past.
“I was cold and lonely and ashamed for a lot of the time.”
Emmaus Leicestershire and Rutland’s business manager, Matt Taylor, said: “We’re proud to think that by offering our free collection service, we’re doing our bit to encourage people to think more about recycling.
“It’s a great alternative to having to take your unwanted furniture to the tip.
“We hope that our local community will pull together to help Emmaus make a difference - everything sold in the shop will raise money to help us change the lives of formerly homeless people like Mark.”
To book a free collection for unwanted furniture, visit www.emmaus.org.uk/leicestershire_rutland or call 01664 668188.