I was at Emmaus Greenwich for five and a half years. Before that I had my own house where I lived with my partner. I became homeless after the relationship broke up. I lost my home and went to a night shelter in Watford.
At the shelter they slung us out at eight in the morning and we couldn’t go back until seven at night. There was nothing to do between eight and seven. I just wandered around town, went to the library and the park - this was winter and so I had to find somewhere warm. Day centres are only open from 10 o’clock to half past two, which means that there were still several hours when I had nowhere to go. That is what makes Emmaus different - you can be here all of the time and have work to do.
I moved out of Emmaus Greenwich in March 2009 and got a job at the Post Office. There was a period of about two months when I was still living in the community, but working out of it at my new job. I was very glad to be able to do it in this way because it allowed me to get used by slow degrees to the concept of living and working outside the community. Unfortunately, after a couple of years the work was farmed out to agencies instead of being done via the Post Office and I lost my job.
I couldn’t find anything else, and I didn’t want to just be stuck claiming benefits. The people here looked out for me again, there was no shame in coming back though it was hard to adapt back the other way again after I had got used to having my own space. I mostly work in the shop, and I enjoy interacting with customers. Maybe in the future I’ll move on again, but for now I’m just working hard and keeping busy.