Phoenix resident Mark Burgess standing in front of a window
Phoenix resident Mark Burgess
Mark Burgess
Wednesday 3rd January 2018 - 12:18

A community that works

Mark Burgess is a Phoenix resident and works as a cleaner in Lewisham. He is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for Heart n Soul, a creative arts company and charity based in Deptford that believes in the talents and power of people with learning disabilities.

Mark received support to build his skills and find work from Phoenix's job club for residents.

In 2007 I was living in Downham on my own. The homes were run by Lewisham Council and there were no repairs. I didn’t lose my temper but I knew I wanted something different. I wanted Phoenix. I got a letter and it asked you if you would vote for Phoenix. I voted. I went to the first AGM and I felt hopeful.

I got a new bathroom and kitchen and I always keep it clean. I’m proud of my home, I always keep it nice. There have been lots of changes. There’s more security now where I live, we have an intercom on the doors and spy holes and it makes me feel safer. And the caretaker does a good job too – he keeps everything nice and tidy.

I feel like an ambassador for Phoenix. I wear my badge every day – my Phoenix badge, with my cancer badge and my remembrance badge for the soldiers. Phoenix feels like my second home and I’m proud of everything that’s happened. It’s full of very special people, and I admire everyone, I feel safe here, and more confident.

Pat Fordham and Jim Ripley are incredible – they changed my life completely because of what they did for us.

Most of all I’m pleased I became involved with job club, without them and without Amy (Phoenix's Community Investment Manager) I’d be at a loss. They don’t rush you, they are patient and this helps people to get confidence and respect – it makes me feel valued and like I’ve got something to offer. If I can’t do it today, I know I’ll be able to do it tomorrow. And if I can’t do it tomorrow, I will get there at my own pace.

I’m 54 and I’m proud of my life. I know in the future someone else will be in my home, and I hope they will be as proud of it as I am.