Gerard's Story: From Darkness to Light
Gerard was a teacher. Retired, he still loves literature and drama, often scouring the second-hand book markets of Paris for rare books. He never imagined he'd be homeless.
Gerard thought he and his wife would grow old together. But he was only 50 when she died. Her death tore him up. A descent which led to the streets.
15 years Gerard was on the street. He was lonely, in and out of hospital too. Heart problems.
Last winter he collapsed. He'd only been two weeks out of hospital. Thankfully, he was right by Depaul's Paris day centre. A busy yet calm oasis for the city's homeless, Depaul welcomed Gerard in. Our staff took him to hospital.
But he wasn't forgotten. Depaul volunteers visited him in hospital, taking books to read, clean clothes, toiletries. And when they heard Gerard had a sweet tooth - they took Haribo sweets too!
Depaul sorted out Gerard's ID and pension. He came to trust us. So much that he accepted a referral to a winter shelter. The first time he slept in a bed for 15 years.
Gerard became his old self. He composed a poem, 'Light' - and read it at our Christmas service. He now lives in a flatshare. He enjoys looking after the flowers and walking to the book market. And he has invited round the dedicated Depaul volunteers who helped him, for a cup of tea.
Looking back now, he says: "I never thought that life could be this good again"