When David Russell lost his job and then his girlfriend, he ended up on the streets.
But having turned his life around, the 49-year-old now spends his nights walking the pavements he previously slept on to help the homeless.
He said that in the last six years, he had also stopped seven people from killing themselves in the early hours on Worthing Beach by starting a conversation.
He recalled helping one woman who had travelled from Horsham: “She said: I want to be left alone; I want to die. I said, let’s have a chat first.
“When they feel it in their heart that you are making sense, it can be life-changing.”
David’s problems began seven years ago, when he lost his job at Precision Metal Products in Southwick, followed by his girlfriend and home in Penstone Park, Lancing. With nowhere to turn, David was forced to sleep rough on Worthing seafront and in Brighton and Littlehampton.
He said: “Because I am deaf in both ears, I should never have been homeless. I had to have someone with me if I took my hearing aids out.
“I was petrified, but I always felt safe because I had someone with me.”
He eventually got a support worker at Southdown Housing Association, and after two years they found him a place to live.
He has lived at his studio flat in Rowlands Road, Worthing, for three years, has a part-time job as a cleaner at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School by Victoria Park and has launched a page dedicated to Worthing’s nightlife, full of photos he has taken in bars and pubs. He also photographed a red sofa on Worthing Beach that went viral on social media.
But he has never forgotten the kindness the homeless people showed him, and from 9pm to 4am most nights he visits those sleeping rough in Worthing and helps at the Worthing Soup Kitchen in St Matthew’s Church, Tarring Road, every Thursday.
If you are affected by this story, call The Samaritans for confidential help on 116 123.