1. ITV Report

Former homeless man turns his life around to become a successful curry chef

Rudy Wilczynksi survived being a homeless drug addict Credit: BPM Media

A former homeless drug addict, who was once spat at by drunken people in the street who laughed and poked fun at his situation, has managed to completely transform his life.

Rudy Wilczynksi survived a month sleeping rough on the streets in Birmingham city centre. He hid out in doorways and washed in freezing canals.

"I moved to Birmingham 11 years ago. My mum died when I was 16 and my marriage broke down," explained Rudy, who has a masters degree in physics.

"I wanted a fresh start and I had little jobs here and there, picking up £30 or £40 a day every now and again labouring or in a warehouse. I was denied a National Insurance number and, soon enough, I could no longer pay my rent."

Rudy, from Bucharest, hit rock-bottom after spending 25 days sleeping rough and soon found himself addicted to heroin.

"I tried it at the start just to escape how I was feeling... It was foolish. I'm not proud of that. It was just for an escape. It was winter. I was mentally remembering my daughter back home and, at this point, I thought my life was over. I felt like somebody's rubbish, especially being on the stairs. People were just coming and literally spitting on you and, because you're down there, they don't see that this guy has got a problem.'

– Rudy Wilczynksi
Rudy has worked his way up to become a curry chef Credit: BPM Media

After lying in underpasses and being subjected to abuse, Rudy went about changing his life - by kicking his addiction and seeking regular work.

A tough six months on methadone followed as he began to overcome his addiction and turn his life around.

Raj Rana, founding trustee of Let's Feed Brum, saw something in him one evening during the charity's nightly soup kitchen on Corporation Street.

"Rudy realised what it was like to be homeless. And so he wanted to give something back and volunteered at Let's Feed Brum. I was so impressed. I'd turn up to offload my car and he'd be the first one to come and help me grab the containers amongst all the huge panic and scramble. And that's where I first met him. I spotted his willingness to help straight away. At that point he still had nothing and still wanted to help others."

– Raj Rana, Founing trustee of 'Let's Feed Brum'

With Rudy slowly working his way back to a normal life, Raj offered him a job at his restaurant. Rudy has now been working full-time at Itihaas for the past two years. His boss now hopes that he will go on to become an award-winning chef in years to come and says he's proved it's possible to overcome the odds.