Just a couple of years ago Garry Mackintosh walked from Blackpool to Leeds to escape the demons of his old life and start again.
He was dabbling with drugs, sleeping on the streets and selling the Big Issue but looking for a way out when he started volunteering with a housing charity doing up derelict houses.
Now he has a full-time job, a house and rebuilt family relationships thanks to the Leeds Action to Create Homes (LATCH), which has just secured £1.2m worth of funding to take on 16 more derelict properties in the Chapeltown, Harehills and Burley areas.
The cash boost means 30 more vulnerable people can be helped into secure homes and 30 people will be taken on as trainees to do the work and gain qualifications.
Mr Mackintosh, 41, said: “I had a bad break-up with my son’s mother, a bitter custody battle and ended up in a dark place. The Big Issue office told me about LATCH and I started volunteering for a couple of hours a week to get my head sorted.
“I did courses in joinery and DIY, ended up doing a couple of days a week and they helped me set up as self-employed and I ended up being a full-time contractor.
“It absolutely changed my life. I have regular contact with my son and my life is the way it should be and I want to give back and help the homeless.”
LATCH secured the funding from Triodos Bank and works with Leeds City Council and estate agents to source long term vacant houses from the private sector – of which there are currently around 3,00 – and spends up to £95,000 per property on purchase and renovation costs.
James Hartley, LATCH chief executive, said: “One of our great strengths is we create homes, improve communities and give people an opportunity to develop their skills and confidence and move on.
“Investment is the key – time and money into people that are not getting that and it makes for a big transformation.”