I’ve been in Emmaus Cambridge for four months, but I was at Emmaus Village Carlton before that. Before Emmaus, I had a relationship breakdown and ended up staying in a night shelter for about four months.

That was hard as you had to be in by 7pm, and if you weren’t you would lose your bed for the night. Then you’d be kicked out at 9am in the morning, no matter what the weather was like. I used to go and sit in the library all day, just reading the papers, just waiting for 7pm to go back to the night shelter.

The staff at the night shelter introduced me to the team at Emmaus Village Carlton. I lived there for nine months before getting a job and moving on. I was working as a multi-drop driver and doing over 100 drops a day. However, I really missed the company and companionship that comes with living as part of an Emmaus community, so I asked to go back. Emmaus Village Carlton welcomed me back and I lived there for another two and half years. I moved to Emmaus Cambridge in 2021 because I wanted to be closer to my mum. She’s just an hour down the road so I can now visit regularly.

Before Emmaus, when my relationship broke down with my ex, I turned to gambling and it ended up being quite bad. I lost everything. I was gambling on everything that moved; football, horses, dogs, you name it, I was gambling on it. I was living in a shared house with a lot of other people, and didn’t really get on with them, so instead of being at home, I filled my time up with gambling and it snowballed from there.

I was just chasing that one big win all the time, and when I did win big, I’d think if it’s happened once, it could happen again. But it wouldn’t happen again for a while, and then I’d look at the amount I had spent in the meantime, and it would shock me. I woke up one morning and just asked myself “what are you doing?”

I didn’t get any professional help but managed to stop gambling by myself. I was working all week but not getting any of the benefits of it as I was gambling it all. I used to walk the long way to work so I didn’t have to walk past the bookies so that I wouldn’t be tempted, and I haven’t gambled since. That was five years ago.

I’ve recently visited my mum in Huntingdon and there are loads of bookies there. I was able to walk past them. Both Emmaus Village Carlton and Emmaus Cambridge are out of the town centre, away from bookies, so it’s helped to reduce the temptation to gamble. I don’t even do the lottery now; I have seen first-hand what gambling does to you and I am not interested.

I work mainly on the van, doing collections and deliveries. I used to do the van driving at Emmaus Village Carlton, so I roughly know what I am doing, and I was a taxi driver for ten years too. Before I was a taxi driver, I was a bin man, but we had a bad traffic accident on the wagon, and I did all my back in. I bruised my kidneys and put a kink in my spine and lost all the feeling in my legs and couldn’t walk for about a week. I don’t have any problems with it now, but back then I was off work for about three months, and when I went back, I only lasted a week and I couldn’t do the job any more. It was then that I went into taxi driving. It was only meant to be a stop-gap, and then ten years on I was still doing it.

I don’t really drink, and I have never touched drugs. I’ve seen so many people who have had to rebuild their lives after taking drugs. I sometimes have a drink if I am out, but as I drive the Emmaus vans, I won’t have a drink if I know I am driving the next day. My driving licence means more to me than one or two drinks.

Since I’ve been at Emmaus Cambridge everyone has been brilliant. We always have a good laugh and take the mick out of each other. I like helping people, so I often give other companions lifts to the doctors and other places or will help out on my days off. Helping each other out is a big part of living as a community. It’s the foundation of what Emmaus is all about.

Emmaus has helped me so much over the years, and that’s why I like helping so much; giving back. Emmaus has given me a roof over your head, you get all your meals, all bills taken care of. I receive support from staff, help with things like doctor’s appointments. I like socialising, and everyone gets on, but if I want some quiet time, I can just go back to your room. My room is my own space, somewhere to relax.

If it wasn’t for Emmaus I’d hate to think where I’d be. Emmaus came along at the right time and for that, I will always be grateful.

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