I came to Emmaus Bolton in January 2022, and I found it really warm and welcoming. Everyone here seems to get you. I got my Joinery Levels 1, 2 and 3 at college so it’s in the workshop here that I feel at home. 

As a job I did demolition. I couldn’t do anything wrong when I was taking down a wall. Demolishing things helped me deal with stress. First, I worked for a company that did kitchen and bathroom rip outs. From there I worked completely in demolition but last year the company was sold out and they got rid of everyone; that’s why I became homeless. 

Struggling to find my own feet 

I have lived with my grandma for most of my life since I was very young. She’s done more than enough for me and now I’m trying to find my own feet. I still have regular contact with her and visit every weekend.  

My mother had manic depression and so my sister and I couldn’t stay with her. I was five or six and she was two years younger; we were going to be split up but my grandma didn’t want that. Then my mum died in 2013, which had quite a big impact on me. To this day I’m not 100 per cent. I’ve been trying to get support, including counselling. 

It took a weight off my grandma’s shoulders knowing I’m here and she’s really grateful to Emmaus. She got me a mobile for Christmas so we video call a lot, talk on WhatsApp and I send her photos of what I’m having for my tea. It’s a big change for her too. 

Life on the streets 

I was on the streets for three months, staying at friends when I could, but they’ve all got lives of their own and I couldn’t stay there long. When I was staying at friends it was hard, because I was trying to get away from drinking. I used to deal with my mum’s death through alcohol, but I’ve not drank since I’ve come here and feel much better for it. Coming here has changed everything for me and now I feel a lot better. 

Emmaus has shown me nothing but kindness and acceptance. I don’t know what I would have done if I wasn’t here. When I was homeless, I didn’t know what was coming next. It was quite scary.  

It’s the hours of work that I’m doing here that have taken my mind off it. I’m painting and sanding down the furniture, fixing things that are broken, making something old into something new and nice again. Operations Manager Phil is excellent. He really knows his stuff.  

Finding meaning in upcycling 

The first upcycling that I did was a big chest of drawers in French grey. It was the best feeling afterwards. I’ve got better since then and wish I could take it back and do it again. I’m used to breaking things and destroying things; this work is more delicate and steady hands help. It passes the time as I can get really stuck into it. Finishing that was when I knew I was in the right place with Emmaus. I can do it to their high standards. 

We’ve had great feedback from customers; one sent a thank you card recently. That made me feel awesome. I really loved it that I had made someone’s day. I’m lucky to have people who want to help in a place like this. I’ve lived in Bolton all my life and never heard about Emmaus so I’ve told all my friends about it so they can all come to shop here. 

I hope to be making bird boxes in the summer. Some with little windows would be nice. It’ll become a new hobby as I’d never thought about upcycling before and never seen such a demand for it as I have here. Now I see it as a job opportunity or self-business. It’s good for the environment as well. Furniture gets upcycled and someone else loves it for another ten years. 

There’s help out there  

It’s such a weight off, coming here. I’m only 28 so I’ll save up for a flat and a job. I love that I’ve got the skills in joinery and demolition so that’s what I’d like to do in future. All my tickets, like driving a dumper truck and my excavation licence, are in date and my focus is to get back on my feet and get back into the demolition side of things. 

I’d just like to say, there’s help out there for people who are struggling. Don’t be scared to ask for help. We can always use some more people in the workshop if you wanted to learn a new trade or skill. You’re welcome here. 


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