Charlie's Way

Charlie had the perfect life.

He had a wife, two sons a dog, big house in South Essex and a villa in the South of France; all of life’s Luxuries that would have people envying him.

Charlie was a partner

in Todd Investments, a hedge fund company based in the City of London, where he was very good at his job – making money and knowing when to take risks and when to hold back. Things were great for him! 

However, all was about to change for Charlie. His winning streak ignited a sense of greed. He became reckless and fueled by his need for more, began a journey that would change his life forever.

It was a Tuesday morning. Charlie had his usual medium white Americano at Leon’s Moorgate and went into work. Within half and hour, Charlie was £25k up and winning. Just another average day at work! 

He spent the rest of the morning shopping, the afternoon in the bed of a close friends wife and an enjoyable evening at Stamford Bridge watching Chelsea win in the Champions League.

The next morning sitting at his desk, he was wishing that he had left the last bottle of Laurent-Perrier Champagne for someone else to enjoy, it was then that he decided that the time was right to up the stakes and risk big. This impulse lead to him purchasing £50k worth of shares in a little unknown South American mining Company.

Within the hour he had doubled his stake to £100k, head spinning heart-pumping, ego expanding, this feeling was far better than any drug or alcohol he had experienced, so he chose to take rest of the day off to celebrate. 

Charlie decided to take a some time off and spend it at his villa in the South of France with his wife and two young sons. He was aloof; he could not stop thinking about the next big deal and how easy it will to be to make so much easy money. He could not wait to get back to the office and start the cycle again. He was addicted.

Keen to get back to business, Charlie went to work motivated by his new found addiction, he arrogantly pressed the button, this time to buy £100k of unknown stock. The adrenaline rush fuelling his need to take the risk without any calculation of the consequences.

This time, Charlie was not so lucky and blew the lot. “Again”, he told himself, in the hope that he would quickly gain before anyone would notice. But again and again, the losses kept coming until the partners had finally let him go. 

Undeterred by recent events, he announced to his family he was going set up his own company and trade alone. He remortgaged the house and off he went again. The addiction pushed him further into debt, deal after deal he lost and the patterned continued until he lost the lot. The family house was repossessed, his wife and children had left and their dog had a breakdown. 

Wearily, Charlie packed some clothes in a bag along with his remaining cash and off he went to stay with his brother.

For the next couple of weeks, he moved from friend to friend, sleeping on the sofa until the next person moved him on. He never quite found his feet and after a night of heavy drinking he ended up sleeping in a cardboard box in a local park with only a bottle of Scotch for company.

Charlie had it all but lost it all. He was at rock bottom.

Charlie’s life was now a never-ending cycle of begging, obtaining food and supplies from shops, homeless organisations, along with sleeping in places that were becoming his worst nightmare. He was heavily dependent on large amounts of alcohol and any drugs he could get, to cope with the hell hole of this existence, only to wake up the next day and begin it all again.

No matter how much alcohol or drugs he consumed, Charlie was never to break free from the total feelings of despair, desolation and absolute misery he carried around with him every waking minute of the day.

One Saturday morning,

after an awful nights sleep and feeling grim, dirty and very hungry, two people from Action Against Food poverty (AAFP) approached him bearing fresh homemade sandwiches, delicious cakes along with various chocolate treats and hot drinks. A welcome change to his usual days.

They chatted to him as their new friend. They did not ask any questions or give any advice about his situation, but instead, just listened and let him tell his story and see how they could help him get his life back on track.

As he tucked into the delicious food and drink, he began to feel a bit more human; that someone had interacted with him without pity or feeling judged but had empathy and compassion for the situation he found himself in.

They left him with some chocolate and other goodies when on their way.

This encounter with AAFP had left him feeling better about his situation as someone had just listened and dared him to look at things in a different way.

Every Saturday Charlie not only looked forward to the food and supplies provided by AAFP but the way challenged him to response to questions about his future, which only he could answer.

In time, he decided with the help of a couple of organizations, to cut down on his alcohol consumption. He received help to be able to shower regularly and to look for a new place to rebuild his life. 

At the day center he attended, he started to help to others with his knowledge of computer skills, reading and writing and any other issues with that they might have with obtaining benefits etc.

The center soon recognized Charlie’s contribution in supporting other people and offered him a paid position with accommodation. A page had turned; Charlie was starting a new chapter in his life.

Six months has now passed and Charlie has not entertained either alcohol or drugs. He is rebuilding trust with his sons but knows that this new path requires honesty and commitment, which he ready to give.

Charlie has come a long way from his first night sleeping rough on the streets. He has and still is, turning his life around. His journey has prompted him to share these words of wisdom: 

You always have to take responsibility for your actions; you can never blame anyone else.

You have to want to change. No amount of people’s advice or guidance will not matter, if the desire is not there to move forward

Giving freely with out wanting anything back is a lesson we can all learn.

Action Against Food Poverty’s slogan

Using Food As A Catalyst
For Conversation

totally embraces this view as by treating every with individual with respect and value but non judgmental or giving advice allows the individual to make the desion to move forward with their lives with a positive and optimistic approach.

For more information on the work Action Against Food Poverty does or to make a donation please visit the link below