Talented artist rebuilds life with help of charity
PUBLISHED: 14:45 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:45 31 July 2019
A talented sketch artist who found himself homeless after a mental health crisis is rebuilding his life with the help of a Suffolk charity.
Jurek Oleszko's life had reached rock bottom two years ago when he lost his maintenance job and contact with his family as he battled both mental health and substance abuse issues.
Those problems forced him onto the streets and it was then that he visited the Bury Drop In centre in Bury St Edmunds for the first time.
Jurek, who is originally from Poland but came to the UK in 2006, said: "I was struggling with my mental health and using drugs and alcohol. I had a breakdown, lost my job and all contact with my family.
"I went to Bury Drop In for the first time two years ago and they have been a great support."
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Bury Drop In, which launched in September 2015, is a charity which helps homeless and vulnerable people get back on their feet.
The centre provides warm meals from its Trinity Methodist Church base in Brentgovel Street as well as introductions to support groups and agencies.
The charity also has a 'Next Steps' programme where it works to help its visitors move forward positively with their lives.
Kevin Bullock, a former headteacher who now volunteers at the centre, said once Jurek's talents as a sketch artist were discovered, staff realised he could harness it to help himself.
"Jurek is a gifted portrait artist and once we found out, we encouraged him to use his talents," he said.
"He's a very generous guy and at first he didn't want to charge people, then he wanted to donate it all to the centre.
"But we encouraged him to keep it because we want him to help himself and take that next positive step forward."
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Jurek, 45, said he began sketching when he was at school.
"I started drawing as a child," he said.
"I probably spent too much time doing it when I should have been doing other things at school."
Jurek, who is now off the streets and renting in Bury, has launched his own sketch drawing venture and is hoping to work once-a-week in the town.
Each sketch will cost £15 and takes around 50 minutes.
He is also available to hire for events and can be contacted on 07756 320840.