Homeless at 14, followed by years of drugs, prison and domestic violence. Not a great start in life for Darren Armstrong. Then at 28 he met with Jesus, and became a Christian. It has led to a very different path.
He initially went to college to occupy himself, and then to university to study sports development.
But his passion was to help people coming out of prison – especially younger people, and giving them a new foundation, to help them build a new life….and never return to prison.
A new place to live
Right at the outset Darren realised that they needed a place to stay, with the right environment. His starting point was to talk to Green Pastures who provide accommodation for many homeless and needy people. They agreed to buy a property for him to use and then rent it to him.
It was for 4 ex-offenders to live in, where there was a brand new regime, under the banner of ‘Be Strong’.
There were personal development sessions every week, free gym membership, and they went to church every Sunday.
A new way to work
Darren also realised the importance of developing the employability of these ex -prisoners, and so has done a deal with the CEO of AO, the largest online retailer of large electrical goods. Every week Darren’s team are sent 120 washing machines that need repair, which can then be sold second hand. Effectively they have created their own business.
As this project developed, so did the interest and demand for places.
Darren approached Kingdom Bank about providing a mortgage to buy another property, so that more people could be given the same opportunities. When we saw what he was doing, we were delighted to support him. Today he has a three bedroom house, so they can now house 7 people.
Darren’s vision is growing. He has realised that his residents need to learn independence, and the ability to stand on their own feet. So his plan is to acquire some flats that can be used for this purpose.
In 2017 he plans to start a women’s ministry. He is planning a coffee shop, with a clothes shop attached. As part of this he has sourced free designer clothes from Germany, so that the women can build their own business and livelihood. And, of course, they will need a house to live in as well.
We look forward to supporting Darren, and the vulnerable adults that he supports, for many years to come.