Former Homeless Man Sets Up His Own Charity Delivering Tonnes Of Food To The Needy

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A man who spent nine months sleeping rough on the streets has dramatically turned his life around - and now delivers two tonnes of food to vulnerable people every week.

Mark Harvey has set up charity City Harvest and collects unused food from restaurants and supermarkets that are then given to those in need.

His life as a business owner is a world away from his previous life, which saw his marriage break down after losing his job as a successful cameraman.

The 51-year-old soon found himself homeless in Weymouth, Dorset, and was forced to sleep in the freezing cold for nine months in 2006.

Mark would spend his time scouring the streets for food but he soon realised he didn’t have the strength to spend another freezing winter sleeping in the open - and he knew it was time to get help and rebuild his life.

After being helped into a hostel by a woman at the council he was introduced to a man who ran a driving school for ex-offenders.

The school was part of a charity that also ran a soup kitchen that collected food to make meals for the homeless.

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Redistribution: Mark collects unused foods and drives it to other charities (SWNS)

Mark said: “As part of the driving school the ex-offenders had to do voluntary work, and my friend who taught them had a van.

"So as we had a vehicle and a work force I, and the ex-offenders, picked up waste food and redistributed it to the soup kitchen.”

After four years The Upper Room stopped running the redistribution service in 2014 - but Mark had built up the contacts he needed to run his own business.

He said: "I’d built up the contacts and I managed to get a donation of £5000.

"I was hiring a van and doing my own redistribution but I managed to make that £5000 last 14 months.

"I would ask some of the charities I dropped off at to make a small donation as well to cover some of the costs.”

Gradually, Mark’s Acton-based charity has grown from strength to strength and he now has a board of directors and a team of 21 volunteers.

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Turnaround: Mark spent nine months sleeping rough on the streets (SWNS)

The charity delivers an astonishing two tonnes of surplus food from restaurants to charities all over London.

Mark says he collects food from Nando’s, Morrison’s, Marks & Spencer, and even Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

He then redistributes it to the Salvation Army, St Mungo’s, Ealing Soup Kitchen and many more charities - and has expanded to cover almost the whole of London.

But now City Harvest is on a fundraising drive so they can employ another driver, and get food delivered to even more people.

He said: “When you have been there you understand how devastating it can be living on the streets.

"There is a lot of food that goes to waste - redistributing it is just such a no-brainer.”

Top pic: SWNS

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