Mark was a successful engineer. He worked for the same firm in the Midlands for 27 years. At the age of 46 he was made redundant and this led to a breakdown.
He tried finding temporary work but without success. He was renting a home but when his mental health condition worsened, he wasn't able to continue paying rent.
Rather than claiming benefits, he decided to come to London, try for work and sleep rough. "You feel embarrassed putting your hand out. I'd been on outward bound courses, I was used to camping. I thought I would see what I could find in the capital."
That was in 2005. He slept rough for almost five years, in contact with outreach workers on the streets but resisting the move into a hostel. "I've never been to a hostel, avoided them like the plague. You hear horror stories. But I was in touch with services and volunteered myself for one homeless organisation. If you're sensible on the streets, you can get by. I've never begged. You can find food if you know where to look, so much is thrown away."
Then in 2010, an outreach worker asked if he'd like to move into the Lodge, the new B&B style accommodation being offered for older long term rough sleepers, managed by St Mungo's with the City of London Corporation.
"I'd heard about it, it sounded alright, not like a hostel, and so I said yes. I was one of the first guests to move into the Lodge in April 2010. The paint was still wet on the door when I moved in!"
He's been in the Lodge for around 18 months. "It's safe, relaxed. Most of us are over 40 and we lead our own lives. There's no-one on your case here checking what you're supposed to be doing, you can come and go as you please, with a minimum of rules that help us live together but no more than that. For people who can look after themselves, a place like this does work. I can see as well though that you need a mix of places, for people needing different kinds of support.
"When I first came in, it was strange. That novelty of being able to shut the door behind you, have your own space."
Mark, now 52, is currently on Jobseekers Allowance and still volunteering with other homeless people. He's also completed a mix of St Mungo's and other training courses and plans to apply for our Apprenticeship scheme with a view to working in the care sector in the future. "I need to get a job next, and then move into my own flat. Sleeping on the streets seems such a long time ago now. I wouldn't want to go back."