I first became homeless when I was 15, the result of a family breakdown. I’m from Southend-on-Sea and I spent five years living in shelters along the seafront there, and very often found myself relying on eating food from the bins. I was already an alcoholic, even at that young age.

When I was in my mid-twenties I decided to move on from Southend and then spent the best part of 35 years moving around the country, sleeping rough. I’ve never really been able to settle in one place for more than three months at a time. Although I did spend some time in hostels and night shelters, I couldn’t handle being there. I’ve always just felt safer sleeping on the streets.

I spent time sleeping rough in Brighton and there the street outreach team told me about Emmaus Brighton. I was much younger than I am now and although I moved into the Emmaus community, at that time of my life I found it too imposing and overwhelming. After three months I went back on to the streets.

I also spent some time in Emmaus Leeds when it first opened, but again, it wasn’t the right time for me to be living within a community.

I moved to Emmaus Cambridge two years ago. I feel like I am ready to be in an Emmaus community this time. I am too bloody old to be sleeping rough; I am 56 this year and want to settle somewhere. I’ve also been dry for two years.

The support I receive from the team here at Emmaus Cambridge is amazing. My support workers give me so much help with my mental health problems and my issues around alcohol. If I feel like I am on a downward slope or need some support with my “beer googles” I can just speak to them and they help me through it.

I enjoy my work at Emmaus Cambridge. I get involved with the housekeeping within the community and I have worked in the shop for 15 months. For the last few months I have been meeting and greeting customers as they arrive to let them know about our COVID measures and I really enjoy this. I’ve not always been very confident around other people so this has been a great boost to my confidence and reduces the amount of time I must think about negative things.

Outside of work I enjoy reading and thanks to everyone’s donations to the shop, I haven’t had to buy a book for two years! I’d really like to learn French and Spanish, so I am looking into that now. Emmaus Cambridge is a fantastic site in a lovely location and it given me the opportunity to learn more about nature and the environment. I’d really recommend people visit.

I’ve never felt this settled before; the staff here are great. Living in an Emmaus community isn’t going to suit everyone, but I would wholeheartedly recommend community life. Emmaus has given me so much help since I have been here, and I hope to be here for the foreseeable future. There’s so many positive bits to being part of a community and I would recommend it 100%.

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