BRIAN Hayes understands more than most what it’s like to be faced with the obstacles and challenges that accompany the struggles of homelessness.
But the 27-year-old from Latchford is a walking example of how determination and drive can help you to get back on your feet.
The dad of two, who has put his past behind him to help others to build a brighter future, is now working as the activities project manager at the YMCA – a centre which is ideally located in the heart of Warrington.
He said: “I have walked in their shoes and I can understand where they are coming from.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about the people. I’m a local lad and I’ve been through it all.
“That’s why I can get on with everyone as I can get on their wave length. I can be professional when I need to be but it’s about helping the people that come through the doors.”
Brian’s journey from a self-confessed teenage tearaway, who found himself homeless in his late teens, to inspiring charity champion was documented on Channel 4’s Undercover Boss.
The programme focused on YMCA England HR director Bims Alalade, who wanted to find out about what happens at the grassroots level of the charity as they contend with 70 per cent budget cuts.
During her whistle-stop tour of a number of YMCA centres, Bims visited the Warrington branch on Winmarleigh Street before spending the evening and next morning in the emergency night shelter.
“Although the programme showed bits of what we do it didn’t show everything,” said Brian, who has volunteered and worked at the charity for the past five years.
“It didn’t concentrate on all the things that we do like CV preparation, life skill sessions and interview techniques and there are five full time members of staff who all work really hard.”
For the hour-long show, it was clear that Brian loves what he does despite the long shifts and budget cuts that make his job all the more difficult.
“I have always liked to keep busy. If I sit down I get bored. Even when I was on the dole I would go out and do volunteer work. I can’t imagine doing another job.”
The former Bridgewater High School pupil also said the service would not be able to function without the help of Fairshare, Brighter Futures, Housing Plus, Warrington Borough Council and students who are completing the National Citizen Service, who all provide vital support to make sure the YMCA can help those in need.
Undercover Boss is available to watch on 4OD or to support the YMCA call 632771.