Our resident who turned his life around through comedy features with Paul O'Grady: The Sally Army and Me

published on 20 Apr 2016

“I believe my problems stem from not talking – from bottling things up inside. I want to encourage men to talk when things might seem not to be going right."

David Standen, 45, meets Paul O’Grady on this Sunday’s (April 24) BBC 1 episode of Paul O’Grady: The Sally Army and Me at 6.05pm. Paul helps David, who was being supported by The Salvation Army at its residential centre Cambria House in King’s Cross, as David prepares for his first comedy night debut. 

David believes his problems stemmed from bottling them up and not talking about them. He was a pub manager and would always have a smile on his face but inwardly he says he was in turmoil. David hopes to use comedy to help others experiencing homelessness and mental health issues.

When David was a young boy his father would beat his mother. His best friend died of (in his own words) a broken heart after the death of his daughter. David’s best friend’s daughter died in the December and then the following July his friend died of a heart attack. After a very difficult breakdown of a relationship with a girlfriend David tried to end it all. Thankfully he survived. He came to The Salvation Army’s Cambria House in April last year after a stay in a crisis centre and now helps others who have faced difficult circumstances like him. David’s colourful outfits and penchant for the colour pink mean he’s easily spotted!

Through the support given to him at Cambria House David has now moved into an independent flat in Camden, and volunteers for a range of charitable organisations including The Salvation Army’s Number 10 drop-in based in Oxford Street for people who are homeless and Suited and Booted – a charity which helps clients create a positive impression when seeking employment by providing them with work appropriate second-hand clothing.

David said: “The care in this place (Cambria House) is amazing and I would recommend them to anybody. There are people to listen to if you need it. And there’s so much you can do if you are homeless in the area – from acupuncture and massages to gardening and photography. There’s lots to do and The Salvation Army encourage you to get out and do it.”

David’s dedication to helping others helped him win the Positive Change award at the Camden Adult Pathway Awards run by Camden Council earlier this year.

In this week’s episode Paul O’Grady also returns to Liverpool, where he first encountered The Salvation Army while working as a care officer in the 1970s. He supports a woman tackling drug addiction and wins one last chance to march with The Salvation Army band.

Annette Watts, service manager at The Salvation Army’s Cambria House Lifehouse, said: “We at Cambria House are dedicated to caring for men who are homeless –who are vulnerable or in need. We supported David so he could get back on his feet and helped him get his own, independent flat. We are there for people, and offer them compassionate support, a listening ear, and practical help to turn their lives around. David is an inspiration to many as he now volunteers for us and other charities across London to help others.”

Did you miss the previous episodes of Sally Army and Me? Click here to watch via BBC iPlayer (Programme available for 30 days).