GORDON Wilson was jobless and homeless when he visited a free workshop at Film Oxford in Catherine Street.

Eight years later he works with Channel 4 as a documentary maker and his first full-length film, 66 Months, is being showcased at festivals around the world.

It documents six years in the life of his friend Nigel Fletcher – a man battling addiction, an abusive relationship and life under the radar of social services in Oxford.

The 46-year-old wanted to show that thousands of people were slipping through the net of social care provision into a dark, lonely and often dangerous underworld.

Mr Wilson said: “66 Months is the amount of time Nigel went without any help from authorities.

“He just slipped through the gaps. And now we want to raise awareness of his life and the lives of people like him.”

The pair met in a halfway house in Iffley Road, when Mr Wilson lived in the flat above.

He said: “There was this terrible smell coming through the floorboards so I went down to investigate. There was rubbish everywhere, maggots in the sink, it was in a terrible state.

“I thought no one could live there, but then this hand came through. He had long black nails, a matted beard and he was mumbling.”

From those shady beginnings, a friendship was formed and Mr Fletcher soon agreed to take part in the documentary.

The finished product – which took seven years from start to finish – tells the story of Mr Fletcher’s relationship with another man, Robbie Burns.

It depicts harrowing scenes of abuse, mental illness and alcoholism, but an ultimately loving relationship.

Mr Wilson said: “After so much time, we became close to them.

I’d help them furnish their new flats and help them when they were in trouble.”

During filming, Mr Burns died. One of the last scenes is Mr Fletcher standing over his grave, saying goodbye. The 42-year-old is now overcoming his alcohol addiction with the support of mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind.

And in the meantime, the film is being shown at festivals around the UK and as far away as Portugal, Holland and the USA.

Last Wednesday crowds of people, including those from the world of social care and psychiatry, met to see a special screening of the film in London. An Oxford screening will be announced soon.

Mr Wilson said: “We are going to invite along everyone who has ever been a part of Nigel’s life.

“Throughout his entire life Nigel has been beaten and bullied.

“But he is remarkable. He’s a survivor.”

* For more information about the film, visit 66months.com