Andrew Faris, the founder and Chief Executive of Rhythms of Life, is a former rough sleeper.
Andrew grew up in Hackney and ran a successful estate management firm in the 1990s. Unfortunately, over-expansion led to financial difficulties and the business collapsed. Andrew fell into a debt spiral and couldn’t keep up with his mortgage payments.
Like many homeless people Andrew was powerless to change the situation, so he soon found himself sleeping rough on the streets of London.
Life on the street was a constant struggle for survival. Andrew suffered abuse; sometimes street cleaners would wake him with bleached water, other times people would light his trianers on fire as he slept.
Andrew worked to rebuild his life, he sold ‘The Big Issue’ and traded goods at local markets to save up to a rent a room. Time after time, the money was stolen from him as he slept.
Andrew suffered 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.
Andrew worked for a better tomorrow. Public libraries offered him warmth and a place to study for his MBA in Business Administration and by 2003, he scratched enough money together to buy a camera and pursue his dream career in fashion photography. Andrew produced models’ portfolios for free and soon built up a roster of clients, earning enough money to move off the streets and into rented accommodation.
In 2005, Andrew covered the Kashmir Earthquake, which killed over 75,000 people and left many more homeless, for cable TV. The victims’ plight moved Andrew deeply and inspired him to found a charity which treated rough sleepers with the dignity and respect that he felt deprived of during his years on the street.
Since 2008, Andrew has dedicated himself to the charity, which has provided food, clothing, and support to rough sleepers every day for over eight years.