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Homeless and on Hull's streets - now I run my own successful business

DIANE • 15th Apr 2019
Homeless and on Hull's streets - now I run my own successful business


Jason Kay was featured on the front page of the Hull Daily Mail recently, telling his story of homelessness and how he turned his life around to inspire others.

Jason was left homeless as a teenager when his dad threw him out and has spoken of his journey to running a successful business to inspire others.

He was just 17 when he came home to find all of his belongings in the garage of his dad’s house.

Having grown up in an abusive home, surrounded by a world of drugs and crime, the then teenager found himself living in a hostel with nowhere else to go.

With help from charity Doorstep of Hull, however, he found himself a permanent home in Orchard Park, and secured a job.

He said: “I ended up in a better place, but I still hated living in Orchard Park".

“I used to park my car at my girlfriend’s house near Bricknell Avenue, and get the bus home because I was afraid of leaving it outside my home. I worked in a couple of different jobs to start with, and ended up getting sacked from most of them. I guess I always felt I could do better.”

His girlfriend at the time stuck with him through the tough period, and 30 years later the pair remain together and married. 

He faced another challenge when he was 26, when his mum died suddenly.

“My mum sneezed and had a brain haemorrhage and died. I was quite close to her, so it was very difficult to take. It meant since 1997 I have had no parent relationship to speak of.”

Jason said he launched a number of companies without success, before he co-founded online sales firm The Marketplace with Gareth Alexander.

Since its launch in 2016, The Marketplace has gone from strength to strength, and will soon be recruiting new staff as it looks to expand.

Jason is also currently works with homeless charity Emmaus in Hull, to support people who have fallen into hard times in the city.

To this day though, he remembers the challenges he faced.

 “I experienced a lot of crime when I was young, not from within the family but in my surroundings,”  he said.

“I managed to get away from that life, but it would have been easy to end up going down that path.

“I have always said you are where you are in life because of the decisions you have made. You can go wherever you want to go if you work hard enough.”

Jason said his big breakthrough came when he joined Barton-based Kimberly-Clark in 1993.

After more than a decade working at the business, he went on to launch The Marketplace with Mr Alexander.

“The business is going very well, but there have been challenges along the way,” he said.

“Looking ahead, most of our business at the moment is done in the Humber and Yorkshire, so we would like to branch out to a national level.

“It is about providing a service which the customer wants. Too many people launch a business because they think it is a good idea, but really you need to do what is good for the client.”

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