Marius wants to make sure he says goodbye to everyone he knows, so he dashes around a corner at Pret-a-Manger's big, open-plan headquarters to make sure he hasn't forgotten anyone.

"See you soon!" Pret staff call after Marius."Thanks for coming!"

Marius, 32, has spent the past few hours helping at a bake sale at the Pret-A-Manger office in Central London. The cake sale was set up by the corporate staff to raise money for the Pret Foundation, and Marius is here because he wants to give back to the programme that gave him the tools and the salary that has allowed him to return to what he calls "a normal life."

Marius on Pret twitter feed

Marius features on Pret's film about their Rising Stars training programme. 

Only a few months ago, in January 2018, Marius was staying in a Glass Door shelter.

Marius, 32, left Romania when he was 17 to go traveling around Europe. After several years working and traveling in different countries, Marius settled in the UK. “I worked in Newcastle at a sushi restaurant,” he recalls. One day, he came home and his things were gone. “My ID, everything got stolen,” he says.

Coming to London

“There’s no embassy in Newcastle, so I came to London. I had no more money, nothing. So I went to a church near Kings Cross station,” Marius recalls.

“They pointed me out to a day centre, West London Mission. From there they made a referral to Glass Door.”

Marius got a space in the night shelter in January 2018.

Marius worked with Glass Door caseworker Karolina, who helped him re-apply for his passport. Without an ID, which would take four months to sort, Marius couldn't work and had no income. Without the Glass Door shelters, he would have been on the street.

Next, Karolina referred him to Jay, Glass Door's employability coordinator. Marius worked with Jay and used the computer facilities at Glass Door to update his CV. Marius found a job at a fast food restaurant, and Glass Door provided Marius with work clothes and travel expenses.

Staff also referred him to BedSafe, a charity that crowdfunds to book hostel spaces for people who would otherwise be sleeping on the street. The hostel space allowed him some stability while he worked and saved for a deposit.

Returning to normality 

Since then, Marius met with Restart, a charity offering routes out of homelessness and long term unemployment, who helped him get into the Pret Rising Star Programme. The programme provided 14-weeks of training in the kitchen and on the tills in order to prepare apprentices for a work at Pret. Along the way, apprentices gain transferable skills, friendship and confidence. Marius graduated on Tuesday, the day before he helped run the cake sale at Pret Headquarters.

He says of Glass Door's support:

It got me back to my old life. Now I’m back to normal.

 

Marius (right) with Jay (centre) and fellow Rising Star, Jamie (left), who also stayed in our shelters.

Marius is now renting a flat in Stratford. “Now I am more relaxed because I have more time,” he says with a smile.

"I would like to go hiking and ride bikes on the mountains,” Marius says. He plans to do so back in Romania on holiday next year.

In the meantime, he looks forward to his job greeting customers and selling cakes and sandwiches at his job behind the counter at a local London Pret-a-Manger.


Read more about Marius' graduation from the Pret Rising Star Programme

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