Mark Revell lives a 10 minute walk from Oasis Training in the Stonehouse area of Plymouth. He’s lived in the area since about 2013 and currently lives in supported accommodation, a hostel for single homeless adults. In the past few years he’s moved from a shared to a single flat.
Mark has always lived in Plymouth. He was a carpet fitter and floor layer for 25 years, and eventually stopped work because he injured his knees through the job. After that, he worked in demolition for three years, but stopped work after a friend of his died in an accident at work. A few years ago, Mark split up with his long-term partner, and became homeless. The last time he worked was in about 2014, and he is now on Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Mark admits that, in the past, he took on too much. 'That was the problem' he said, 'I sort of had a breakdown [...] obviously it all took it’s toll on me'
When we started speaking to Mark, he said he had been given time to 'pull everything back together'. Part of this process has been his engagement with family, and reconnecting with people who he had lost contact with.
One of the main reasons Mark wanted to learn about computers was to talk to his sister more easily. She lives in Middlesex and they don’t see each other very much. When we first met Mark, they were communicating a lot over the phone, which was proving quite expensive.
His sister, niece and nephew are all on the internet and Mark said: 'I can’t see them, and I can’t talk to them much, unless it’s on the phone'. He was interested in using Skype. He had used it before, but didn’t feel that he knew how any more.
The other reason he wanted to learn was to get better work; something different to his previous 'dusty, dirty work'. Mark says 'It’s alright, I suppose, but it would be nice to have somewhere where you can actually fill a role. That’s the other reason why I’m doing this computer thing, because at the moment I can go up to an agency and get work, but it’s not very good money'. Mark also explains that agency work is always short term, and he wants something more secure.
Mark was aware of services going online: 'computers are the thing now', he said, 'you’ve got to be able to do things online - looking for jobs - the job centres are practically empty now'. Mark has been to the Job Centre in the past but, because he was on ESA, he didn’t need to attend at the time we spoke to him.