by Monica White
We met the wonderful and charming Marc Gallarotti on our Tottenham Court route yesterday and he stopped to have a chat. He’d seen us out on our daily walks and wanted to give us words of encouragement and show his gratitude, as he too was once homeless. It’s amazing to meet compassionate and empathetic people such as this chatty chap.
He used to keep an eye out and help one of our regular service users, which fortunately we managed to get off the streets last week. Marc used to take his clothes home to wash them for him and would often give him money for food. He also made a very generous personal donation of £125 to our gofundme page and shared our tweets, reaching out to people and sharing the cause!
Marc’s initial journey away from the Streets was an unsavoury hostel in Parker Street. He told us there was no hot water and the mattress was filthy and full of bed bugs. He had to buy a mattress himself. The place was really rundown and filthy. Sadly a number of people died there through suicide and drug overdoses during Marc stay. He recalled one guy jumped out of a window and landed on the railings and was just covered up with a blanket. Marc lived here for a year, he said it was a terrible experience but he survived.
He was then lucky enough to live at a Salvation Army hostel, Cumbria House. Here the rooms were really nice with a private shower, however Marc’s stay here was short-lived, as one night he awoke to the fire alarm going off. The roof was alight after someone left a pan of oil on the stove and forgot about it, causing the fire. Marc lost what little he had that night. He was taken to Camden centre where he stayed up all night trying to process what had just happened. The following night, they were all sent to different hostels. He was lucky not to go back to Parker Street, instead staying at another hostel on Camden Rd, which he said was run by a really strict but very kind lady (she even bought him some curtains). Eventually he was transferred back to Cumbria House where he enjoyed 2 years before he was offered a studio flat through Camden Council.
Marc was fortunate enough to have a van so was able to get jobs to earn some money and he now helps Cumbria House residents move to their new flats and gets paid by the hostels for his services. He would really like to run a hostel as he feels he’s well equipped due to his past experience of living in hostels, meaning he can relate to the residents. He knows how emotionally stressful it is and how depression often follows, all things he had dealt with himself.
“It’s funny the council knows you suffer from depression, but they put you in the worst hostel they have which makes no sense, and makes your depression worse.”
It’s always great to hear success stories such as Marc’s and to see the resilience and determination of our homeless friends. I think we can all take a leaf out of Marc’s book and we hope he’ll fulfil his dream of running his own hostel in the future.
Keep up the great work you’re doing and thank you for all your support! We need more people like you Sir.
If you’d like to follow Marc you can find him on Twitter: @xxMarc21xx