A HOMELESS man who was told he would possibly never walk again is taking a giant leap for the charity that helped him.

Andrew Raison, 29, said his life changed in 2016.

He woke up paralysed from the waist down and later learned he had a condition called Transverse Myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord which stopped him from walking.

He said: “I began to isolate myself, and developed a lot of social anxiety. I used to be a really outgoing guy, and could speak to anybody.

"I felt stuck in a downward spiral and I ended up really depressed.”

He was receiving neuro-rehabilitation and physiotherapy, but said it did not work and he was in a wheelchair most of the time.

He said: "I was told there was only a 33 per cent chance of being able to walk again, and I began to feel really fed up with how my life was.

"My mind went to a lot of dark places, and I wasn’t myself."

Determined to get back on his feet, he carried on with exercise and within three months managed to walk again.

He added: "“I still only have 50 per cent feeling in my legs – which I guess is good when people stand on my toes. Even though too much time has passed for me to make a full recovery, I can walk and that’s all that matters.”

However, less than a year after teaching himself how to walk, we was evicted from a flat-share after his contract ended.

With nowhere to go, he began sofa-surfing for a month.

He said: "It was difficult to find somewhere stay every night, and I was desperate for somewhere to settle.

"The council referred me to Emmaus Colchester, and I joined within a week of handing in my application form.”

He is now being supported by the charity, and says his family is the reason he stayed strong.

He said: "When I became homeless, I didn’t want to just sit back and think my life was done – I wanted to keep fighting and make an effort.

"I didn’t want to accept life, and the thought of my daughter kept me strong through being sick and becoming homeless. I honestly don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for her.”

Andrew has teamed up with other Emmaus Colchester companions, staff and volunteers to get covered from head to toe in a rainbow of colour.

The colour run will take place on Saturday, June 30 at the Ardleigh Showground to raise funds for the refurbishment and expansion of Emmaus Colchester’s charity shops.

The 5K run is a way for Andrew to push himself even further.

Emmaus Colchester provides a home and work for up to 34 people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion.

Companions work full time while they are at Emmaus, selling and upcycling second-hand furniture and household items at its two Emmaus charity shops and two warehouses.

Gintare Petrauskaite, Community Manager at Emmaus Colchester, said: “One of the great things about Emmaus is the opportunity to meet truly extraordinary people and, to a certain degree, be able to help them through their remarkable journey.

"Andrew is that type of the person. I am truly amazed at this inner strength and positivity that keeps him going and overcoming adversaries that the life troughs at him."

To support Andrew visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emmaus-colchester.