Andy secures laptops for homeless in Bury St Edmunds to help them on road to a better life

Laptop computers are handed over to Home Group clients at Britannia House in Bury.  Pictured with some of the Home Group clients are Andy Banham (left), Cllr Sara Mildmay-White and Mark Walsh (right).
Laptop computers are handed over to Home Group clients at Britannia House in Bury. Pictured with some of the Home Group clients are Andy Banham (left), Cllr Sara Mildmay-White and Mark Walsh (right).
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A former homeless man who turned his life around has secured 20 computers from St Edmundsbury Borough Council to help marginalised adults at a supported housing group do the same.

Andy Banham, project worker at Home Group, in Bury St Edmunds, approached the authority for the old machines, which have been upcycled to allow clients to search for jobs, keep in touch with relatives and access self help forums.

The 43-year-old, who is a recovering alcoholic and was forced to live on the streets after losing his home, has links with the council which helped him on the road to recovery through a return to work programme in the waste management department. He said: “These laptops which have been donated will enable our clients to access training, search for jobs, complete their education and keep in touch with family and friends.”

Mark Walsh, head of service at the council, said: “Ordinarily these laptops would have been decommissioned and disposed of. When Andy approached me I was delighted to look into the idea and try to help.”

Home Group, based at Britannia House, in Ipswich Street, provides accommodation for single homeless people - some of whom may suffer from alcohol, drug and mental health problems. Mr Banham helps them integrate back into society and the service currently has 70 per cent of clients in work with three others awarded university places.

It is a complete reversal in fortunes for him after overcoming a 20 year struggle with alcohol. He said: “For about the first 10 years I was a functioning alcoholic . I held down a job but it was when I moved to drinking in the morning everything started to go wrong. I lost my home, spent a period of time on the streets and for a lot of years didn’t know how to get myself back.” Eventually Mr Banham sought help at Bury rehab charity Focus12 and he hasn’t had a drink in six years.

On his work at Britannia House, he said: “I don’t preach - I tell them a bit about my story and it gives them some hope.”