Life
Former homeless man now owns a business and only hires the disadvantaged or homeless
When he was homeless, he struggled with people believing in him. Now? He wants to give others a chance.
Eduardo Gaskell
12.31.21

Drew Goodall was once homeless. But a chance meeting with a stranger would turn his life around.

Over 2 decades ago, Goodall worked with stars like Brad Pitt and Hugh Grant, aspiring to be an actor in London. But poor theater reviews destroyed his confidence.

Goodall ran out of acting offers. “I didn’t want to face my parents. When I left home I was the big hope. I couldn’t face the ignominy of having to go back with my tail between my legs,” he said.

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He ran out of money and was evicted, ending up on the streets of London. His home was a cardboard box, surviving on what little money people gave him.

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Goodall took on many jobs like polishing and shining people’s shoes. This, considering he felt like a failure. And he never asked anyone for help.

He purchased a brush and a tin of polish from what little he had from begging and he began his trade in London’s financial district.

Goodall didn’t have a license to trade so he was wary of the authorities. But after six months, one of his regular customers made Goodall an offer that would turn his life around.

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Goodall was allowed to set up on the lobby of his customer’s office which gave him a more stable income. He was now off the streets.

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The business grew as he moved in to other establishments prompting Goodall to start his own shoeshine business he called Sunshine Shoeshine.

He began hiring the homeless and those with special needs to help with his trade.

He stressed, “There is no magic button for homelessness. It’s something that will always be there … (but) just giving someone some time, talking to them, that goes a long way to finding a solution to homelessness.”

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Goodall soon began earning around £250,000 ($330,000) a year in profit as he set up and expanded in various places around London. Sunshine Shoeshine employs mostly former homeless people like him.

He shared, “It came organically. I didn’t set up to, in my own way, try to change the world.” Goodall estimates that since 2012, he has helped 40 people turn their lives around.

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They even give back to charity, which receives 5% of Sunshine Shoeshine’s profits. “We have given in excess of 20,000 pounds ($26,000),” said Goodall.

Goodall’s story and his way of giving back boosted his employees’ confidence as well, since he gave them a new chance in life.

Often it’s transformative. It gives people a sense of purpose, something to get up for in the morning,” Goodall said.

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And he still continues to help others, often donating his personal salary for those in need.

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Goodall remembers where he came from, and now he is able to transform lives through his efforts. This is what Sunshine Shoeshine is all about. He gives others the ability to take control of their lives once more.

He just gives them a little push in the right direction.

Hit play below for Goodall’s inspiring story!

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By Eduardo Gaskell
hi@sbly.com
Eduardo Gaskell is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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