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When Mark Curtis moved into his newly built flat in Bletchley it was the moment when for the first time in many years he felt there was point to his life.
Mark, 46, had grown up in the area near Milton Keynes but after years of bad luck in business had lost his home, was sleeping in a tent by the canal or sofa-surfing, and was battling a drink problem.
But thanks to Aragon Housing Association he is back on his feet with his own front door and, for the first time in years, enjoying cooking himself a Sunday roast.
“It’s my foundation. If you have a decent base you can do anything you put your mind to,” former shop-fitter Mark told us.
“Sometimes I wake up and I think it’s my front door and if I don’t want to open it to anyone I don’t have to.”
Bills for his second floor flat are reduced with the help of solar panels. It is part of a small group of social housing flats and houses built by Aragon, part of Grand Union Housing Group.
Mark’s life started to go downhill when he moved away to set up a business with a friend, a business which never materialised and he was forced to do what work he could find.
The years progressed and eventually his fortunes sunk so low he fell into depression and could no longer work, try as he might.
“I ended up feeling isolated and got depressed so I decided to come back to my home area where my Mum lived in Bletchley.”
Mark had previously been a proud owner of his own home which he had gradually renovated in Blackpool. But when his fortunes changed he faced repossession; he had to sell quickly and for a while put the little money he cleared from that into renting tiny bed-sits.
Back in Bletchley he found himself signed off work with depression, struggling to beat the drink, and ultimately with nowhere to live.
“I couldn’t afford the private rented sector. They wanted deposits, they wanted references. I had nothing.
“At times I was living in my tent for several weeks. I was suicidal. I thought there was no point to my life.
“When I finally got the keys to this place I moved in with one quilt, one pillowcase and a TV. I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t had this. It is absolutely gorgeous.”
Mark has now furnished his flat immaculately, relishing in finding bargains at charity shops and from supermarkets so he can cook himself a proper meal every day.
He is now determined to study further and has taken English and Maths and IT exams and qualified as a fork lift driver. He plans to do voluntary work to improve his CV as he starts job-hunting.
He added: “I must say a huge thank you to Lorraine Whittle and the team at MK Floating Support which has played in putting me on the right track and putting me in touch with Aragon. I wouldn't be where I am now without the help and kindness of others.”