How a viral video reunited a homeless man with his Wearside family
In a video, viewed by 435,000 Facebook users, Simon Easton, 25, said he had beaten drugs and given up crime and wanted to put things right with his family in Washington.
Yesterday, the young man was driven back to Sunderland and reunited with his family, including his mum, Joanne.
Thousands of people have been touched by Simon's video and an installation company has even offered him a job to help him get back on his feet.
Volunteers from Leeds Tent City, where Simon was living and who initially made the video, drove the young man back to Washington to see his family.
They recorded the emotional reunion and Joanne can be seen saying "Thank you very much" and adding to Simon, "I just hope you are going to stay".
David Hedley, who formed Leeds Tent City last winter, said: "His past is his past. He's changed his ways and has found his way back home.
"This is a real good news story. We try and help people and Simon has taken a big step to help himself.
"The video went viral and it just shows that there is always hope."
From donations to Leeds Tent City, £40 was used to get Simon home and buy him a phone so he could stay in contact with the group.
Hayden Lee, from the organisation, said: “Simon is a fantastic lad and this is absolutely amazing.”
In the original video to his family Simon says: “I am still here, I am still alive, I have stopped all the drugs and all the crime,
“I love you all, mam and dad, my two sisters. I have been away for a long time, I would like to link back up and say hello.
“I really do love you mam, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t missed you. I have done a lot of bad things in my life and I am willing to try and correct that now.
“There has been a lot of ups and downs, but I want to correct them, I want to let you know that I love you I want to put that right, please pass the message on.”