How brutal sleeper Michael Rea left the streets of Edinburgh for Fresh Start

How brutal sleeper Michael Rea left the streets of Edinburgh for Fresh Start
How brutal sleeper Michael Rea left the streets of Edinburgh for Fresh Start

When I first met Michael Rea he was sleeping rough on Princes Street in Edinburgh.

It was a freezing night in November 2017, but he and his dog Piper had nowhere to go.

He told me that the handful of hostels that allowed dogs were full for the night.

Michael had been homeless for a few months by then – he had become estranged from his family.

When we met again last week, five years after our last meeting, life was looking much brighter.

He told me that he had found a rental six months after we met and that he had reconnected with his family.

Charity Fresh Start, which offers a range of services for homeless people, has been hugely supportive.

He is now a regular at the community meals held at his base north of Edinburgh, and his team of volunteers helped make his flat more welcoming when he first moved in.

Michael said: “[They] painted two of my rooms and they gave me a starter pack as i had nothing i lost all my stuff.

STV News

Michael was living on the streets of Edinburgh when STV News first caught up with him in 2017.

“I’m going to start doing cooking classes [here] in January, I hope to see what else can happen after this, and I hope that I can also find work.

“I have been homeless several times in my life, I try not to become like that again.”

Fresh Start’s walk-in meals also give people the option to connect to other services.

Biddy Kelly, chief executive of Fresh Start, says the support is vital, especially in the wake of the cost of living crisis.

She told STV: “I think we will see more people who have never had to use our services before.

“Anyone can come to the community meal – there’s no judgment when you walk through the door. But if you need help, you’ll have someone [to ask].”

. Kaye Nicolson Comment sleeper brutal Michael Rea left the streets Edinburgh for Fresh Start

. brutal sleeper Michael Rea left streets Edinburgh Fresh Start

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