Businessman lived rough in graveyard after firm collapsed
Ashley Parkinson (57) was rock bottom after a business failure and spent three months living in a cemetery toilet block in Clitheroe, struggling to survive the winter.
But an invite from someone who had also struggled financially took him to a charity coffee morning and the start of a journey which has seen him make a full recovery, find friends and a home.
Now he is set to walk 240 miles to highlight the work and raise money for Christians Against Poverty, a charity with debt centres across the UK.
“I didn’t see how they could help me, this bunch of Christians, but they were all welcoming and non-judgmental. I couldn’t believe that these people who I once would have sneered at could be so friendly. The love and kindness they showed me drove me onwards.”
Thanks to CAP, Ashley’s life began to turn a corner. As well as a warm welcome, volunteers helped him connect with the local food bank. He felt supported by the community and found faith too, becoming a regular at St James’ Church, Clitheroe.
Two years on from his lowest point, Ashley wants to say thank you to those who helped him and will set off from the gates of Clitheroe Castle at 9am on Saturday. The 18-day walk will take him via a list of other CAP debt centres, many of whose staff and volunteers will join him along the way.
“No human should have to live like that,” said Ashley. “In my lowest moment, I was sitting on a bench just before Christmas, looking out towards the town, and it started to rain. I was thinking about how I’d been trying so hard to get work and was failing all the time. I felt so miserable, so let down, and I couldn’t see a way out.
“I feel this is a chance to make people aware of what it’s like to be homeless, to go without food, and to show people that it’s unacceptable,” Ashley explained. “I’m doing it for four groups of people – those who are homeless, those who are hungry, those who are suffering with debt and for all the people who have helped me out of my predicament.
“So many people still don’t know what CAP is and does so I want to highlight the life-transforming work they do,” he said.
To sponsor Ashley’s efforts and donate to CAP, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ashleys-walk