I was first made homeless down in Kent, where I used to live, due to a breakdown in a relationship. The relationship ended quite toxic. I got myself a little caravan after we first broke up which had no electricity, heating, or running water. It took, maybe two months to get electricity but I still had no water or heating. One day I came home, and all my stuff was missing from my caravan, I had been burgled.
After that, I was made homeless again in Cambridge. The council put me up in a hotel, and I was there for about 2 months. Then the hotel staff thought I was selling drugs from my room, so they contacted the council. I mean I wasn’t; I would have had some money to show for it if that had been the case.
I was kicked out, and I then went in a tent outside the hotel for the best part of 3 months. One of the members of staff was helping me, she was bringing me hot meals but eventually, she got fired because of it.
At the point when I was in the tent, I had nothing to do in the day and I was drinking a lot. Sometimes I’d go back to my tent and find people had left beers there. It was nice but at the same time I didn’t really want to drink but it was just there.
Those months were really difficult. People look down on you and assume things about you. That’s why I got kicked out of the hotel as well. It was frustrating because I was none of those things.
I didn’t want to ask anyone for help, for a matter of pride. In the end, I just sucked it up and started getting the ball rolling. A charity called P3 came out to see me and I found out about Emmaus through them. It sounded like something I’d be interested in and applied.
Arriving at Emmaus
I was quite scared about coming here at first. I was anxious about living in a community with lots of people and knowing that everyone had gone through the same thing. I was just over the moon that I could actually sleep in the bed, and I had a warm room I could sleep in.
I was worried I wouldn’t fit in, but look here I am, a year later!
I’m happy here, probably the happiest I’ve ever been for years. The feeling of being in a community like this, to me just feels like family, if not a bit of a dysfunctional one.
Celebrating one year at Emmaus
It’s been such a great year that I’ve been here, and I wanted to thank the community. I got in the kitchen and cooked Thai food for everyone. It’s my favourite food and I couldn’t believe how well it went down. There was a queue around the dining room, and I saw people come back with 2 or 3 extra bowls to fill up! I was really happy with that; I’d like to make it a regular thing.
I made a cake to celebrate too, and Jo the support worker has helped me in the past to make others. Jo’s a very good teacher, I didn’t learn to bake with my mum when I was younger, so I really enjoyed it. I’d like to help the café and make cakes for them to sell.
Working at Emmaus
I like to do a bit of everything, I don’t like to feel stuck in one place with work really. My favourite place to be is in the café.
I also like going out on the vans and meeting all the different people. Before Emmaus I was doing varied work, I worked in a petrol station, in a Malaysian restaurant and I was a bingo caller, which was my favourite job.
I do have a dream of one day maybe running my own restaurant, it’s a big dream, but it’s something to aim for.
I like that I’m working towards helping the charity, it makes me smile and if I can see other people smile then it makes me smile. I just enjoy being happy.
Moving on is definitely on the cards but I want to kick my alcohol habit properly before I start living independently. I don’t want to end up in the same cycle.
I first started drinking when I found out my Stepdad wasn’t my real dad, I was about 12. I didn’t take it well. That was the start of my anxiety and depression as well.
Friendships at Emmaus
I get on with a lot of companions in the community, I’ve got some friends for life, I think. I love all the volunteers as well, that’s why I wanted to cook the Thai curry in the daytime so volunteers and staff could come along too.
I think at the time it was just daunting coming into the community with all these new people and with my anxiety I find it difficult to meet new people sometimes. I didn’t come out of my room the first two days I was here; I was nervous and shy. People could see I was quiet and not saying much so they’d come up to me and ask me if I was alright and start a conversation.
If someone else is in the same position, coming into the community, I’d say that you’ll be fine, you’ll settle in and you’ll feel at home.
I have a place to call home now, and it’s the best feeling in the world. Having somewhere to call your own means a lot.
I’d like to say thank you to everyone else out there who donates to Emmaus as well. Without those people, this place wouldn’t be what it is.