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14 February 2020

Mihai, 42, turned to Glass Door shelters this November when he moved to London to be close to his daughter. Determined to make a life here, he has been working with employment coordinator Jay to gain qualifications for a career in security.

Mihai eagerly pulls out certificate after certificate. His UK driving license, his first aid training, his DBS check, his CCTV operator certificate and his public surveillance qualification.

He has just received his biometric passport so he can apply for his SIA (Security Industry Authority) badge. Then he hopes to find a job in CCTV and security.

“I want to better myself. In security you can save lives. For example, you can prevent a terrorist attack by spotting a hidden bomb in someone’s bag.”

When Mihai’s marriage broke down and his wife left for London to work as a chef in 2013, their six-year-old daughter stayed with Mihai in Romania. He says his family persuaded him that a daughter should be with her mother, so he gave custody to his ex-wife and his daughter left him to join her mother in London.

In late 2018, Mihai too travelled to London so he could be close to his daughter again. He only had £612 in cash and struggled to find a hostel. He ended up homeless.

For the first three nights and three days, all I did was walk. I slept on a park bench in Embankment for a couple of hours, but I was so worried about being attacked.

“I eventually learnt how to survive on the streets. I learnt that you must move, that you mustn’t stay in the same place, that you should sleep in sight of CCTV cameras, that you must avoid criminal gangs, that you must avoid drink and drugs.

“It was so tiring and there are many temptations on the streets. I am a hard smoker but I never turned to alcohol or drugs. And when this chapter is over, I will try my best to quit smoking.”

Mihai spent two months on London’s streets before finding a job as a kitchen porter in rural Scotland.

“I worked 11-hour shifts without a day off. And the work was physical and draining. After six months I was like a zombie and I hadn’t even seen my daughter.”

Mihai decided to return to London to improve his career prospects. That’s when he met Glass Door employment coordinator Jay. Jay helped Mihai with a referral to Beam, a crowdfunding platform that supports people who are homeless into training. This is how Mihai funded his security training.

Jay and the Glass Door shelters were there to support me when I needed it. If nobody supports you, it is difficult to have hope. If nobody supports you, it is almost impossible to get off the streets.

“I know what my next step will be. I would fall into a depression if I knew this was forever. But I know this is only temporary.

“If you have hope, you can survive. You have to be positive or you lose all hope.

Mihai’s daughter is 13 now and Mihai says he hopes he will see her go to university. Once he has his first pay check, he plans to rent a small apartment so that he can stay in London and support her studies.

Having a child changes everything. Nothing is more important than my daughter.

Everything I do, I do for her now. My dreams are for her: education, security, happiness.

To provide support to someone like Mihai and make a long-term difference in the life of someone affected by homelessness, consider making a donation