When I came to Emmaus Bolton for an interview for the van driver’s job, I had been a companion and volunteer at Emmaus Preston for more than five years. I was really glad to get work. I like the way Emmaus is run and I like helping people.  

I moved to Bolton and started working with the van crew in December 2021. With a new area, I’m learning to drive around the streets, mapping roads and getting used to the traffic. I like finding new routes. My dad was a driver and my granddad was a driver. I remember being in my dad’s wagon and remember my hands over the dash and I couldn’t see anything but road. It felt like I was flying. I just knew I wanted to drive for a living. 

How I came to be at Emmaus 

I had always worked. Part-time at first, then full time in 2008 for a car delivery and hire company. Then I had a disagreement with my boss, which resulted in me leaving and I found out he had been giving me bad references. The dole wouldn’t help me. When I applied for a job, they’d get another bad reference, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I knew life was going to go straight downhill, and it did. 

I ended up with mental illness and it got worse. I was getting more into debt. The doctor said I was self-medicating. It wasn’t helping, but it was getting me to sleep. My head was going at 1000 miles an hour every time my head hit the pillow. Due to my mental illness, I tried to kill myself a couple of times. Then there was a family fall-out involving the police. I can forgive, but I can’t forget what happened.  

Parenting challenges 

I was a single parent for about 19 years with two boys. I thought it was easy at the time, but then they grew up and became teenagers. I’ve got four children altogether. My youngest son went to live with his mum and I was looking for work with my other son, who ended up getting a job at 17. We didn’t want to be on benefits, we wanted to be working. He managed to get something and said he would pay for all the bills, but we were left with so little at the end of it all, we had no money for food. There was no choice, but for us both of us to leave.  

Finding another chance 

I was going to job club looking for work when I found out someone at Emmaus Preston was looking for volunteers. That was in 2016/17. I said I would volunteer for three days per week. The dole looked at me like I was doing something wrong, but I was getting something on my CV, which would be getting a good reference. Then after four or five months, I moved into Emmaus permanently. 

It was mainly the guys that I liked about being at Emmaus. They were alright and I used to get up at Emmaus Preston and wanted to live a life. I made lots of friends. I had good friends in the past, but I hardly saw them, and I don’t hear from my kids. There is companionship at Emmaus. 

Getting back on my feet 

I have tried telling people about my life where I lived before, but they didn’t understand. I’ve been burned and don’t want to go back to being burned again and being let down. I never liked to tell anyone when I feel low. I think people have been through worse than I have been. Meeting other people at Emmaus made me realise I have not had it as bad. I never had to think I’ve got to find somewhere safe to sleep, I’ve never slept on the streets. I don’t think is someone trying to attack me or wonder where my next meal is coming from. 

Emmaus has helped me get back on my feet. It’s helped me gain value and purpose. I’ve met some great people in the community and customers, and the training has definitely helped. I can fix things and I’m a jack of all trades. I’ve now got my building site safety card, warehousing certificate and customer services thanks to Emmaus.  

Emmaus helped me get out of debt 

I wouldn’t be here, if it wasn’t for Emmaus. It’s definitely saved my life. At Emmaus, I could stop the bills coming in and start paying off my debt. I’ve found a roof over my head and my own bed. I’ve got people around me and something to do.  

At Emmaus Bolton, it’s driving work and I love doing it. I can do DIY flatpacks, washing machines and cooker fittings. I was born and bred in Preston, but I like the fact I’ve got a chance to make a new start. It’s saving my life by being here.