Charity starts at home for one millionaire businessman, who is giving away a flat free of charge to Preston’s most needy.
The £120,000 three-bedroom property in Derby Court, Fulwood, is being offered fully-furnished and mortage-free by Marco Robinson.
The Stockport-born entrepreneur spent his childhood sleeping on park benches with his mum before being given a lucky break to start a lucrative career, and now wants to help others who might be in a similar position.
His quest to find a suitable person or family over the next six weeks is being captured on film by a Channel 4 film crew, with a documentary set to be aired in the summer.
The 48-year-old father-of-two said: “I asked for help and I got it from unlikely people. They helped me believe in myself.
“It’s been hard work, but I’ve been successful in business and made a lot of money.
Now I want to give something back - to give someone a lucky break like I was given when I was starting out, so that’s why I’m giving away one of my properties.
“I started investing profits into property and learned where were the best places to buy.
“Now I want to give something back - to give someone a lucky break like I was given when I was starting out, so that’s why I’m giving away one of my properties.”
Marco, who owns around 150 properties internationally, including six in Preston, said he is willing to give extra support to the winning candidate as well as the keys to the top-floor flat, including footing the council tax bill for as long as necessary.
He said: “Finding people as candidates is going to be easy, there’s so many. The difficulty will be choosing just one of so many.
“I’ve been meeting the local communuity and homeless groups, speaking to shop owners and trying to learn about the situation locally.
“There are massive issues with affordability - people just can’t afford the deposit anymore.
“People over 30 are still living with their parents and so many more people are now homeless.
“Twenty or thirty years ago it was easy to get a house, but since then the salaries have stayed the same but property prices have rocketted.
“Then after the sub-prime crash a few years ago, banks started changing the rules and now want 25 per cent deposits.
“For a £150,000 house in Preston - and that’s not going to be a massive house - that means a deposit of £40,000 and if you’re on the minimum wage, how long is it going to take you to save that? A lot of people will never be able to.
“Preston is one of the worst places I have seen for people struggling.”
He added: “The people who I want to see live in this flat are people who need a home, they need a sanctuary and some security, and that will make them feel significant again.
“They need to be in desperate need with nobody helping them get out of the vicious cycle.
“I’m very confident from then, very quickly people will be able to turn their lives around.”
Marco said he believes he will have a “gut feeling” about who the flat will go to when he meets them.
He said: “I think I’ll just know, because I’ve been there myself.
“I want someone who is willing to make the effort, someone who is hard-working but who has found themselves in deep problems, not someone who’s just going to abuse this situation.
“I’m not just going to disappear either, I’ll help them acquire an income if necessary and I’ll pay the council tax as long as they need the support.
“It’s not just about the flat, it’s about a life.
“I hope too that I can inspire other people like me – people richer than me – to look at doing something similar.
“People need a break and the council can’t give you that any more. Council houses have disappeared, Help to Buy is heard to get and we need to believe in people again.”
People interested in applying for the house should be over 18 and are asked to explain in no more than two paragraphs why they should be considered.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.myfreeproperty.com or the Facebook page @ThePropertyProgramme. Alternatively, call 03300415105.
The deadline for applications is midnight on Thursday, February 2.
From sleeping rough to NAKED success
• At two years old Marco’s mum left his dad due to his addiction to gambling. Every week his mum would have to work four jobs just to pay the housekeeping bills and put food on the table while his dad blew his whole salary on the horses.
• Marco and his mum would regularly move from town to town, school to school and sometimes they had to sleep rough to survive.
• He left school at 16 without any academic qualifications, getting a cleaning job and sharing a friend’s house to survive.
• He got his ‘lucky break’ aged 21, while working for a time share company in Manchester. About to be sacked for his performance, the top salesman manager gave him a book on self-confidence, which Marco claims he read eight times in one night and returned to work the next day to secure a £10,000 deal.
• After reaching the top of the corporate world, he lost his job, and struggled to become an entrepreneur, blowing his savings on the Stock Market.
• His marriage collapsed in 2008, and he was on his own, all he had was a 20-year-old Volvo and an old laptop.
• Then he decided it was about time he wrote the book he always dreamed about writing. Close the Deal & Suddenly Grow Rich became a number one best-seller.
• He hired millionaire, successful financial mentors and threw himself into the subject of money, determined to find the best way he could increase his wealth this time in real estate and investment property.
• He now owns around 150 properties internationally and gives seminars on how other people can replicate his success.
• He is also the founder of the NAKED Group of Companies including the Naked Restaurant and Bar recently opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which has already spawned three new Franchise Companies, NAKED COFFEE; NAKED PIZZA & NAKED Beauty Bars.