We were thrilled for client ambassador Liam when he was recently chosen from a host of individuals by the Manchester Munich Memorial Foundation (MMMF) for an all-expenses trip to Munich to take part in their annual memorial service. 

The MMMF, who raise money for local charities in memory of those who died in the 1958 Munich air disaster, said that Liam’s hard work to turn his life around and help others had been ‘tremendous’ and was one of the reasons he’d been chosen.  

Liam, who spent years sofa-surfing and sleeping on public benches before he found support through our Pathfinder service, now uses his own experience to help other young people at risk of homelessness. He was part of a group of staff accepting a generous £12,000 donation from the foundation when he was awarded with the honour for his ambassador role. 

“Being an ambassador gives me the opportunity to work with people coming into the service now”, he told the MMMF. “Because I’m in their age bracket, they can speak to me in ways they might not to the staff. So, they can confide in me. I can tell them about my experiences, how I’ve come through it. Telling them it’s not going to be easy, but what you put in, you’re going to get out. 

“I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been where they are. If there was someone like me when I first joined, I think it would have been a bit easier to put my guard down. It’s nice to have that ability to show them that it’s possible, that I’m here now. It gives me purpose.” 

It’s the recognition of all the hard work Liam has put in during his time with Depaul UK that impressed the MMMF when making their choice. 

“We looked at Liam,” said Ifty Ahmed, the foundation’s chairman, “saw that his mother died when he was just 16 and he lost his family home. We also saw that he’s still managed to turn his life around, thanks to the help of Depaul UK and himself, we think this is tremendous.” 

For Liam, a proud Mancunian, it’s not just an opportunity to represent his city, but also the chance for a break that otherwise might not have been possible. 

“It’s still not sunk in properly,” said Liam. “Like, wow, I’m going. Everything’s paid for. I’m a history buff, so having the ability to go there, see it, and Munich is supposed to be a beautiful city. Someone like me, it’s not like I’m flushed with cash. I don’t really have the opportunity to pay to go on holiday. Best I can hope for is, like, Blackpool. 

“I’m looking forward to going to the memorial to pay my respects. Although it doesn’t matter what team you support, at the end of the day, for me it’s all about Manchester. It’s part of our culture. It’s who we are. It’s engraved. In primary school, we learn about Munich. You know, it’s not just about football. It’s about the lives that got lost. 

“I hope my story shows that it’s possible to go through hardship and come out the other side and still be recognised. It shows that anything is possible with hard work. For me, it’s not been plain sailing and there were times that I wanted to give up. I’m so glad I didn’t.”