I’m from Wigan originally but I’m now at Emmaus Bolton. I was homeless from 2001 to 2008, spending time in Blackpool, Manchester and London.
My marriage broke up in 2000 and it transpired that all I saw was the drink then. Sometimes, I would sleep under a cover opposite a pub. I was so naïve when I first slept rough that I once left my trainers outside my sleeping bag, and in the morning they were gone. I thought nothing of walking across London on my own.
I remember seeing water cannons wetting the benches where people would sleep when I was in the city. People just didn’t seem to want to deal with people sleeping rough back then.
I didn’t see the end of it and it’s only with the help I’ve had that I’m where I am today. The turning point was when I was in a day-centre in London and my daughter said ‘where are you?’. Then I knew I had to sort my life out and I did, with the help of Emmaus.
I was told about Emmaus by someone in London and because my children live up North, I wanted to get back there. I first went to Emmaus Mossley in 2008. I did most of the jobs there. I’m proud to say I was a main figure in the café. We built it up from nothing and it is now a meeting point for lots of people.
At Emmaus I’ve done quite a few courses including NVQ training, customer care, manual handling and food hygiene. Emmaus Mossley gave me a good foundation and I’ve used what I’ve learned during these courses and my work experience with customers at the Drill Hall store at Emmaus Bolton.
I moved to Emmaus Bolton for a change and I like it here. It is a working community. The work gives you a meaning. If you don’t want to do nothing, then you gain nothing. Working gives you a good feeling, like you’ve achieved something. Emmaus gives back. It’s good in that respect. Otherwise, I would drink. Work stops the temptation.
While I’ve been at Emmaus Bolton, I’ve attended the Emmaus UK Assembly with one of the trustees here. Living here and being part of this community is good. It’s big enough that if you want to be on your own, you can – if you want to mingle, you can. We all get on at Emmaus Bolton and support each other through any issues people might have.
I’ve become a grandad while I’ve been at Emmaus and would like to see my family more. I’m in a good place, and although we divorced in 2000, my best friend is my ex-wife and we get on well now.
Whilst I was at Emmaus Mossley, I completed a 10k run/walk to raise money for Oldham Mountain Rescue Team. Six of us took part in it and I was determined to complete it to prove to myself more than anything. I’ve done running in the past but I didn’t realise how hard it would be. Three years ago I was in a wheelchair due to alcoholism so to complete the challenge felt like a real achievement. It also felt good that we raised over £1,000 for a local good cause.
Thank you to everyone who supports Emmaus. As much as what you do for us, we try to do for others. We help lots of people and groups in many ways, for example the local food bank and low income families. I hope that we can repay what people do for us. We are so grateful for the support because without them we wouldn’t be here.
If you or someone you know is affected by homelessness and would like to know more about joining Emmaus Bolton, please read more at Join Our Community on our website.