ONCE he was homeless and unemployed, but now Paul Freeth has turned his life around, and wants to help others who have fallen on hard times.

Having been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for several years, his first breakthrough came when, with support from workers at Simon House, he did work experience with Aspire, a charity for the homeless.

That led to a successful spell of work experience at solicitors Morgan Cole in Botley, which helped him realise that he still had a future.

Mr Freeth, 41, said: “In my early 20s I had a horse-riding stables and I was happily married. But then, after spending so much time in hospital, I lost my business, my marriage had broken up and I was homeless.”

When his work experience came to an end, he found a full-time job, setting up a recycling scheme for Aspire.

Mr Freeth recently gave a presentation to the Responsible Oxfordshire Business Involvement Network (Robin), a partnership between business, public and voluntary sectors which aims to raise awareness among local employers about mental health and well-being, share resources and gain sponsorship for fundraising events.

It has enlisted more than 60 members since it was set up 18 months ago.

Amy Wackett, of Oxfordshire Mind, said the scheme had been “highly beneficial” helping the charity establish some valuable links with businesses.

Mr Freeth now runs Aspire’s stall at the Wednesday Gloucester Green market in Oxord, selling bric-a-brac, books and other items collected from donors.

Mr Freeth may have turned over a new leaf, but he is keen not to hide his past.

He said: “I want to help other people to believe they also have a future. It was very tough.”

  • For more information about Robin, call 01865 251946 or go to ocva.org.uk/robin