Neil's story

Neil at Emmaus Mossley

I was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, and then lived in Greenfield, Mossley, Ashton, back to Greenfield and then back to Mossley. I became homeless due to moving out of the flat I was in because I was unable to keep up with the rent. The business I was involved with at the time was not doing well and it went downhill.

I ended up in a hostel in Rochdale for six months. It was a horrible experience and I hated being there. I felt lonely, had no friends in the town and couldn’t find any good music – something I’m passionate about.

I knew about Emmaus Mossley before it even opened. The people who opened the community were all my friends from church and our sons and daughters were also great friends.

A musician friend I knew from Mossley, who I still kept in touch with, mentioned me to her friends and they took it upon themselves to see if I could move into Emmaus Mossley. The next day I had an interview with the community leader and I moved into Emmaus in 2011.

I was at Emmaus Mossley for about 5 years. Like anything in life there’s the good, bad and ugly – I was the ugly part. First of all I worked in bric-a-brac sort and then I became very big in women’s clothes all of a sudden. It must have been my retail experience coupled with my charming nature.

The clothes items used to be individually priced but this took a long time to sort and get items out into the shop. We all decided to change the system and keep it simple. Instead of items being individually priced we did all items for £1.50 or four items for £5. This really took off and the clothes area has done better and better ever since.

I went on lots of training courses at Emmaus and took advantage of any opportunities that came my way. I did an IT course, first aid, food hygiene, PAT testing and customer service course with Tameside College to name but a few. I passed the customer service course with flying colours and it was great to develop these skills.

The main thing that Emmaus helps with is providing a roof over your head, warmth, food and a focus each day. The work element at Emmaus allows you to keep ticking over and gets you in the right frame of mind for getting back to work. It’s no good to anyone not doing anything with your time each day.

I moved out of Emmaus Mossley in May 2016 and now have my own flat in the town. I still go back to Emmaus to volunteer in the clothes department and enjoy meeting up with fellow volunteers, companions and staff there. I’m looking to go self-employed alongside my not-for-profit work to organise and promote music nights in the area.

I love everything about Emmaus and the whole concept. At first around here, some of the people didn’t want homeless people on their doorstep. As they’ve come in, and found out more, these are the people who are now the mainstay of keeping Emmaus going. They can see that people are not just dossing about and doing nothing, they now know it’s a fantastic thing for the community.

Most of my experience at Emmaus has been very positive and it helped me get back on my feet which I’m eternally grateful for. To everyone who supports Emmaus I say keep doing what you’re doing. Keep donating items, shopping here and supporting Emmaus in any way you can.