A Linslade charity worker will travel to Japan to share his experience helping young vulnerable adults as part of an international exchange programme that saw thousands apply.
Lee Hyndman, 33, has turned his life around since living on the streets at the age of 21 and now, nine years after getting back on his feet, works at Leighton’s Mayday Trust in Kilgour Court to help people in a similar situation.
The Trust supports people living with drug, substance or alcohol misuse, mental health issues, learning difficulties, domestic violence and/or homelessness by giving vulnerable people a voice.
“I cannot explain how I feel about it,” said Lee. “No words could state how I feel to represent my own country, and to deliver a service in another country that I am really proud of is just breathtaking. It’s like I have won the lottery. Excited is an understatement.”
From being homeless, to helping others, Lee has worked as a senior personal asset mentor for the charity for 18 months, and says that his experience of homelessness has given him a “love for life”.
He said: “I had a really privileged upbringing. I was spoiled with love from my parents so I didn’t come from a dysfunctional family.
“But I lived on the streets for two years because of the consequences of what I was doing; poor decision skills and the lifestyle I chose to live.
“I was given an invaluable gift and I call it desperation. I was then able to change because there was no other option but to.
“Through me changing I have become a good human being that has self-worth and confidence and I wanted to be able to give that to others.
“That experience has given me gratitude and love for life, individuals and my work.
“I love working for Mayday Trust because of how they look at other individuals and how they then make them look at themselves.
“It just shows how far I have come in life by being able to help other people.”
Lee is now one of 13 people from across the country selected to participate in the The Young Core Leaders of Civil Society Groups Development Programme and will visit Tokyo from February 25 to March 11.
He added: “I can hold my head up high now because I am accepted in society. The days of looking down at the floor are over. I know what it is like to live in a gutter and I do not want to go back there. I have been on the straight and narrow for nine years.
“I am really looking forward to experiencing the Japanese culture in terms of social care and learning about how they, as a country, tackle the societal issues facing vulnerable young adults on a daily basis.
“I would also like to learn about their long-term goals and aspirations going forward for social service delivery.
“I think the exchange scheme will encourage all young core leaders involved to look at things from different perspectives when it comes to our roles and I hope to forge strong working relationships with the people and organisations I meet along the way.”