I have worked my entire life and for ten years had a very successful career as a housing consultant with local authorities. In March 2011 everything changed though: funding was withdrawn from a project I was leading on and I found myself out of work for the first time in 40 years.
To begin with I was optimistic, I felt sure I’d find another job and until then I could live off my savings. However, months passed and I found nothing. The leisurely pub lunches I started off enjoying turned into whole days spent at the pub and barely remembering how I got home. My partner threw me out and I became totally isolated. I went from being an extremely social person with a passion for life, to someone who rarely left home unless to buy more alcohol. Before I knew it, I was drinking 40 cans a day! I was using alcohol to numb the pain of my now very chaotic life.
After living, if one can call it living, like that for around six months I realised I had to take action and entered a dry house. When I left I found work fundraising for an Emmaus community and then back working with local authorities. I was however, on a much lower fee but my spending habits hadn’t changed and I lived well beyond my means. I soon had a major debt problem and the anxiety this caused saw me re-living that chaotic life using alcohol to numb everything. I felt like my whole world had caved in again. I felt like giving up.
Then a family member and a close friend intervened and suggested I become a companion at Emmaus Cambridge. I am so glad they did! I knew was time to get help again and I thrive on being active. I was supported by the staff to break the chain of alcohol dependency and, from day one, I got involved in the social enterprise.
I have been at Emmaus Cambridge for nearly three years now and it is my home. For the first time in my life I feel content. “When you enjoy what you do you never have to work again”, I truly believe this.
I mainly work in the clothing department but I also work on Emmaus Cambridge’s Ely Market most weekends and I love it. I feel like an ‘ambassador’ for Emmaus and it has really helped rebuild my confidence!
Emmaus has offered me training too: I am now a qualified PAT tester and have an NVQ in Customer Care. Emmaus also organised refresher German classes in the evening for me.
I now have so much purpose in my life. I am actively involved in Emmaus UK and Cambridge’s Companion Forums, I recently raised £81,000 for essential repairs to our village church and volunteer my time supporting our local food bank. I have also given talks outside of the community about my life and experience at Emmaus Cambridge.
In my spare time I enjoy playing the guitar and am currently learning how to play the mandolin. I love gardening and spend a lot of time in our community garden. I go fishing in the warmer weather and read history books, of which there are plenty here, when it’s cold outside.
I have made some very good friends both within and outside of the community. I feel that I ‘belong’ here. Emmaus has helped me to reignite my passion for life and has given me the opportunity to help others.