I’ve been at Emmaus coming up for four years in February. Before moving in, I was working in security. We finished a job around December time 2013, so I thought it would be nice to take the Christmas period off and visit some friends in Southend. I rang up the company to get another job lined up for when I got back, and they said ‘we no longer need you’, so that was that, I lost my job. Prior to that, I had lost my house in Wales as I was working away for six months… I saw no alternative but to swallow a big handful of paracetamols.

I ended up in Chelmsford hospital, with no family around, having my liver flushed out. The doctor said I was close to being transferred to another hospital for a liver transplant. One of the conditions of being released from hospital was that I would be sent to Clacton night shelter. So, I left the hospital, picked up my car, and drove to the shelter, who really helped to sort me out. I had to get rid of my car shortly after, as I couldn’t afford that and I stayed in that shelter for around two weeks. It was okay, but you had to be out of the shelter by 9:30am and couldn’t return until 7:15pm – you don’t get any food either. While I was there, the housing officer mentioned Emmaus, and I came down for the interview. The very next day I was asked to move in and that was it, the start of a new chapter.

Once I moved in, I turned my hand to literally anything. I loved driving the vans but I can’t do that anymore as I’m diabetic and my eyesight isn’t what it was.

The following Christmas, my first at Emmaus, was good fun. Right from the start, I thought ‘this is for me’. By that time I had made friends who were of a similar age to me, the trustees and staff cooked a lovely meal for us to enjoy as a group, and we were even waited on! I’ve gone to the Christmas dinner every year since. It’s a great excuse for me to see the rest of the companions, as I live in one of the flats away from the community – and it’s a little bit more special, as it’s Christmas. Almost everyone attends, and I love that.

Emmaus has helped me big style. The fact that you’re not on a time limit here gives you one hell of a chance to sort yourself out. Gia (Community Manager) has been amazing, she is always encouraging me to put my health first and visit the doctors regularly… ‘yes, mum!’, I find myself saying. Denise is so easy to open up to and Anita will always try and help out in any way she can, in fact she might be helping me get into sheltered accommodation when I retire. I’m nervous about retiring, as I don’t like the idea that I’ll have nothing to do – but I know I won’t say goodbye to Emmaus Colchester, I will volunteer for as long as I’m able to.

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