Patrizio used to ride the number 15 bus to keep warm whilst homeless. He now rides the very same bus from his home to his job at Pret a Manger! “In a few days everything had changed,” he muses.
“A bad year”
The circumstances that led to Patrizio’s homelessness are not uncommon. After his father died at Christmas 2018 and his sister suffered a stroke, Patrizio naturally travelled home to Italy. On returning to the UK, he discovered that he no longer had a job; one of the pitfalls of a zero hour contract. “It was a bad year,” he reflects.
Having already been asked to leave the flat he was sub-letting, he found himself riding the night buses and sleeping on the street. Ashamed, he tried to keep hidden. Eventually, he knocked on the door of GrowTH and the next night entered the shelter. He has nothing but fond memories of shelter life. “The people inside were so friendly … the shelters were great, nice people. Every night was very, very good.”
A quick turnaround
Only 14 days later, Patrizio was holding the keys to his new home in GrowTH Housing. “I spent my first night after months in a proper bed … I wake up in the morning with the sun, it is beautiful! From the window you can see all the skyscrapers … a big moon. It is beautiful, amazing! I passed by many times with the night bus and now I’m here. It was amazing.”
It wasn’t long until a job opportunity came knocking. He was successfully accepted onto the Pret Rising Stars Programme and offered a position in a central London shop. Fortuitously, the shop manager is also Italian. He said it felt like they had been friends “for ages”! Patrizio recounts that by the second day, he had already been allocated his own bench in the Pret kitchen which he says is “almost impossible”. He is so thankful. “It’s an outstanding experience,” he beams.
He is very hopeful for the future. At 65 years old, Patrizio show no signs of slowing down. He is thankful for his good health and says “thanks God, thanks everybody, thanks GrowTH.”