Meet our amazing boss, Andrew Faris, former rough sleeper as well as the proud founder and current Chief Executive of Rhythms of Life.
Born and raised in London, Andrew ran a successful estate management firm in the 1990s. His firm was doing great but unfortunately, due to perhaps excessive amount of ambition and a blooming in interests rates, Andrew soon found himself homeless.
Once on the streets, Andrew hoped that he would get back on his feet in a matter of months, but that did not happen. The main reason being that opening a bank account proved to be an impossible task. In addition to the bank account, finding a job also proved to be a difficult goal to achieve. It took Andrew more than five years to eventually be able to get his life back on track.
Life on the streets was challenging, both on an emotional and physical level. In addition to the stress of being homeless, Andrew also had to face various degrees of emotional and physical abuse. Some people would wake him up in the middle of the night, whereas others would light his shoelaces on fire. In many instances he was awaken by street cleaners spraying him with a hose, a truly dehumanizing experience.
Determined to succeed, Andrew started rebuilding his life. Firstly by selling magazines on the streets, and secondly by seeking employment with local traders working in Bethnal Green, and the Petticoat Lane and Ridley Road weekly markets.
During his time as a rough sleeper Andrew suffered much more from intense loneliness and social isolation than from hunger. Rough sleeping was physically and mentally exhausting. He lived perpetually on edge, sleeping with one eye open to avoid being attacked or robbed of his possessions.
With time and hard work, slowly but surely, he was able to harvest the fruits of his labour. Thanks to the time spent at local public libraries, which provided him with some relief from the harshness of the streets, he was able to obtain an M.B.A. in Business Administration. Moreover, with the money he saved from his jobs at local markets, he purchased a camera. Following his entrepreneurial spirit, he started building himself a career as a fashion photographer. This allowed him to finally move off the streets and into rented accommodation.
While living on the street proved to be a life changing experience, Andrew was able to see that the homeless’ needs were catered in the wrong way. This was mainly due to the fact that help came from an outsider perspective that was rarely able to grasp the situation clearly and to its fullest extent. Time went by and once Andrew was able to settle down and save some money, he decided that the time had come for him to take action.
Today, we are proud to say that Rhythms of Life, during its ten years of service and daily commitment, has served more than 311,000 meals. In addition to this, our charity not only caters for rough sleepers in their basic needs but also actively encourages and supports them in taking an active role in rebuilding their lives.
In 2005, capitalising on his portfolio as a professional photographer, Andrew left the U.K. to cover the Kashmir Earthquake, a catastrophic event that killed over 86,000 people and left far more homeless, for cable TV and press. This experience changed and inspired him profoundly, but that’s another story.