I first came to Emmaus Cambridge in 2017, about 6 years ago. I lost my father in 2017, around March 2017 and it started to unravel then. I lost my dad, my job, and my flat within three months.
I lost my flat in Norwich through rent arrears and after that, I spent a month on the streets in Norwich. I wasn’t working at the time because I had been caring for my dad. I was sleeping rough on the stairwell of where I used to live, looking up at my old flat. Luckily enough, I was going to the Salvation Army every day to have a shower and something to eat. This was in October so it was cold, I was grateful I could go there.
When I was on the street I was really down, I was on my own for that whole period of time. I didn’t tell any friends or family really because I felt quite ashamed and like I let people down. You have to be careful when you’re on the streets, I kept myself to myself. I spent time in church yards for a bit of peace and quiet and went to the big library in Norwich too and tried and keep warm.
It was at the Salvation Army I began to learn about Emmaus. I started to speak to a support worker there and she told me about this accommodation called Emmaus, and I’d never heard of it before. She knew Debbie, a support worker from Emmaus so I left it with her. I had a look at the website, and I thought it looked amazing. I filled all the forms out and thought nothing of it, I didn’t think it would go anywhere. Two weeks later I got a call from Debbie, and she said she had a room available for me. The Salvation Army got enough money together to get me a coach down to Emmaus and I had a tour of the community and spoke to the team. I went away after looking around to think about it, but I knew straight away I wanted to live here.
I arrived a few days later and I thought it was just amazing. I’ve got my own room and it was good to get back to work again too. I used to work at the Post Office, and I was used to hard work.
I’ve found it absolutely brilliant being here; you couldn’t come to a better place to restart your life again. I have tough days and you can’t be happy all the time but it’s amazing. I’ve always felt welcomed, and I’ve always felt safe.
There are great people here, great companions but there’s always space if you want to be on your own. A group of us all go out to a quiz together on Monday nights and that’s a nice get-together. I’ve struggled a bit with my mental health, not so much now but when I first came here because it was very soon after my dad died. I got better over time, time heals all. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll chat to companions about it, or Debbie and Jo.
I work sort of all over, often I’m up in the Mezzanine sorting donations and sometimes I’m in the Coffee Shop, taking food out and serving customers. It’s a good variety, and it’s good to keep the mind active and we’re not stuck in one job all the time.
I worked all over before this, a while in a shoe factory, a bit of painting and decorating and I worked in the Royal Mail sorting office for many years. I like sports too and fishing, I went camping recently with another companion here.
I lived in Norwich for about 40 years, but this does feel like my home now too.
I have a bit of a plan for the next 5 years. I’m on the council housing list where you can apply for places, but it takes a little while. I’m applying for jobs and trying to get another job at the Post Office. We’ll see but I’m hopeful.