The Repair Shop star Jay Blades has revealed that he ended up homeless and living in a hostel in London when he was in his twenties.
The TV presenter, 52, said he became homeless when he moved back to London, which he had fled from after getting into fights, after he had his first child and split up with his then-partner.
The father-of-three, who grew up in north-east London, said he could fit all his belongings in one carrier bag when he lived in a hostel before he was given social housing on the Victorian Peabody estate.
Struggles: The Repair Shop star Jay Blades has revealed that he ended up homeless and living in a hostel in London when he was in his twenties
Jay made the admission on Channel 5’s new documentary series, There’s No Place Like Home, where he revisited his old flat on the Peabody estate and other childhood haunts.
Speaking about when he was homeless, Jay said: ‘At 21 I was all over the place, I had no direction, I left London because I was getting into loads of fights and there were people after me.
‘My mum moved to Luton and I lived up there with her for a bit.
‘I had my first child, and then split up with the missus, and moved back to London, then I ended up homeless and went into a hostel.
Looking back: Jay made the admission on his new documentary series, There’s No Place Like Home, where he revisited his old flat on the Peabody estate (pictured)
‘I had a supermarket carrier bag with all of my stuff in there and it wasn’t a lot.
‘I remember thinking, “is this what my life has come to, is this the end for me?”‘
But the TV star was helped out of the hostel and was given social housing on the Peabody estate, which was built in 1910, along with three other young men.
When Jay lived on the estate, it had a strict list of 17 rules for tenants which banned dogs and wallpaper and said everyone had to be vaccinated against smallpox.
The Peabody estate was founded by American philanthropist George Peabody who wanted to provide affordable housing for Londoners living in slum conditions, but with rules on moral conduct.
Difficulties: The TV presenter, 52, revealed that he ended up homeless when he moved to London after he had his first child and split up with his then-partner
As he reminisced about living on the estate during the emotional visit to his former home, Jay said it was ‘really nice being back’ but quipped there was no ‘moral conduct’ when he lived there.
He said: ‘I always thought this was just a normal council estate. I don’t think moral conduct was happening when I was here.
‘One of the people I lived with was a bit naughty and would steal our food. You would see him with the cornflakes box and he would say “no, I didn’t do it”.’
Jay said it was when he was living in the flat that he found voluntary work which kickstarted his career as a furniture restorer and designer.
In an earlier episode of the documentary, Jay also revealed he used to live amongst rats in his childhood home in Hackney, north-east London.
Reminiscing: As he reflected on his time living on the estate (pictured), Jay said it was ‘really nice being back’ during the emotional visit to his former home
He told how he was brought up in impoverished conditions, after his mother Barbara was abandoned by his father when he was a baby.
He said: ‘When I was born my mum came to live here with my uncle. My mum got pregnant with the man who contributed towards my birth and he left her high and dry.’
Jay added: ‘[He] took all her money from her, said he was going to promise her this and that, and he didn’t, he just disappeared. The time for my mum must have been quite desperate I would say.
‘There was loads of rubbish everywhere, there was rats.’
Growing up: In documentary, he also told how he was brought up in impoverished conditions, after his mother Barbara (pictured) was abandoned by his father when he was a baby
Jay’s new show with comes months after he starred in BBC documentary Learning to Read at 51, which saw the once-illiterate star tackle the written word after years of being unable to read.
The presenter learned how to read last summer using the same techniques children use, such as phonics.
Speaking to The Sun, Jay recalled how he was brought to tears when he received a letter from his daughter Zola, 14, who lives in Turkey with his ex-wife Jade, and was able to read it. Jay also has two other children from previous relationships.
He said: ‘Reading is something most people do every day and I didn’t know it would mean so much to me. It grabs you emotionally.
‘It was the first letter Zola had ever sent me — she had never sent one before because she knew I couldn’t read it.
Honour: It comes after Jay recently spoke of his surprise at The Repair Shop’s popularity as he was made an MBE at Windsor Castle
‘Reading her letter gave me everything I’d ever wanted but didn’t think I would ever experience.’
Jay, who left school without any qualifications, suffers from dyslexia which went undiagnosed until he was 31.
Elsewhere, Jay also recently spoke of his surprise at The Repair Shop’s popularity as he was made an MBE at Windsor Castle.
Jay was given the honour by the Prince of Wales on Tuesday for services to craft and in recognition of his work promoting heritage craft and restoration in the UK.
MBE: Jay was given the honour by the Prince of Wales on Tuesday for services to craft and in recognition of his work promoting heritage craft and restoration in the UK
The regular favourite on the BBC show – which sees members of the public bringing in worn out family heirlooms to be restored by a team of experts – said he never expected that the programme ‘would become so big’.
Jay has starred in the programme since it started in 2017.
He said: ‘I knew it was special, because you wouldn’t have all of those different disciplines in the same building. You wouldn’t have a ceramic next to a fine art next to woodwork and a clock restorer, you just wouldn’t have that.’
He said that the rest of the team were ‘over the moon’ for him after receiving his MBE.
‘They’ve all said: ‘Do we have to bow, do we have to curtsy to you?’ and stuff like that.
Popular: The regular favourite on the BBC show said he never expected that the programme ‘would become so big’
‘I’ve just said there’s one request: as long as they can bring me a biscuit with my cup of tea, that’s all I want,’ he joked.
The presenter, when asked whether a particular object from the show stood out to him, said it was like ‘picking your favourite child’.
‘All of them are really special, all the individuals that bring an item in, all the items are dear to them and all the memories are so unique that you could never pick one I don’t think.’
Jay stressed the importance of craft as part of a sustainable future, something which he spoke about with Charles as received the honour.
Achievement: Jay left school at 15, and has set up a charity encouraging young people who struggle academically to get involved in practical jobs, such as restoration and craft
‘It’s all about sustainability, it’s all about teaching the next generation as to what they should be doing and what they can do, because some people think craft isn’t accessible to them,’ he said.
‘I want craft to be accessible to everybody, from the poor side of town to the rich side of town, so everybody can access it.’
Jay left school at 15, and has set up a charity encouraging young people who struggle academically to get involved in practical jobs, such as restoration and craft.
He is also an ambassador for the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, which provides people with up to £18,000 in funding to study a traditional craft.
Jay previously lauded his co-stars for giving him the ‘confidence’ to speak about his dyslexia.
Ceremony: He is also an ambassador for the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, which provides people with up to £18,000 in funding to study a traditional craft
The TV personality whose disability prevents him from using the reading device, revealed he ‘loves’ working on the BBC programme since he can talk in ‘the way that he feels’ while filming.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline at the recent RTS Awards, he opened up about how he’s overcome hurdles in order to present to millions, despite being diagnosed with the disorder at the age of 31.
He said: ‘No we do nothing like that, no autocue. The person who tells me about all the emails is Kirsten [Ramsay], in the emails they send, she let’s me know what they’re all about.
‘There’s no script. It’s all as real as it looks and it’s all done in one take so working on The Repair Shop is brilliant for a dyslexic cos you just talk the way that you feel. You say what it is you’re feeling at the time.’
Having also featured in TV favourites including Jay Blades’ Home Fix, Money for Nothing and Strictly Come Dancing, the furniture restorer claimed he cannot appear in a show that requires him to use a teleprompter.
He said: ‘Everything has to be unscripted. A lot of the shows I do are unscripted. They’re very accommodating to my, you call is a disability, they’re very accommodating to that.’
Going on to gush about his pals at the factual programme, the Hackney native continued of his dyslexia: ‘The confidence to speak about it comes from the people that are around you.
‘So if you feel comfortable with them… at The Repair Shop we have a lovely family down there, they allow you to feel comfortable so you can open up and just be cool.
‘So yeah you’ve got to have good people around you. If you haven’t, you’re in trouble.’
No Place Like Home continues on Tuesday at 9pm on Channel 5.
‘Do we have to bow, do we have to curtsy to you?’: He said that the rest of The Repair Shop team were ‘over the moon’ for him after receiving his MBE