I’ve been at Emmaus since November 2022. I think it was Halloween when I came and moved in here. On that day I went to Beacon House because I’d been on the street for a little while. Someone had seen me about on the street and gave the number for Beacon House, who then told me about Emmaus. I came to the community that day, had a little meeting and then they gave me a room.

It was a little bit overwhelming because I hadn’t expected it all to happen so quick. They took me upstairs and said, this is your room, and it was really big. It was crazy to have a room and a shower. I was very overwhelmed, and I sort of disappeared. I went back to sleeping rough for a few nights, it was what I knew, and it felt easier to go back to that. There was a familiarity there weirdly. I came back a few days later and I wanted to make sure it worked this time. I got my head down and focused on being here properly. When I came back, I really appreciated what I had been offered. When you turn the hot shower on, your hair is softer, you sit on a bed you didn’t have 24 hours before and you sleep on a bed for the first time in months – everything starts to feel better. I came downstairs and there were people around the table and home cooked food to eat. It felt amazing.  

Life before Emmaus

Before I was homeless, I was living with my nan and grandad in Harwich. I stayed with my nan and grandad, for about 2 years but I moved in February 2020, so very quickly we were in lockdown for COVID-19. I was working in a BP garage, so I was still driving to work every day. My grandparents were very scared because of their age, and they were very worried about me being out and working. They quickly got me the first and second vaccinations, they wanted me to get the booster, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. It got to the point where they either wanted me to get the booster vaccination or move out, so I chose to move out. 

I packed everything into my car, and I went to my mum’s. Then I got a good job working for a ventilation company, I was driving around the country a lot to different sites. My brain gets quite overwhelmed quick. I was away all week from home, home on Saturday and then leave again on Sunday. It was a lot, and I was in Exeter, and I just had a breakdown. I wasn’t seeing anyone, I wasn’t seeing my mum, my brothers, I was barely ever home. It was isolating. I think this is the worst decision I ever made, but I rang my boss, and I said I can’t do this anymore and I quit. After that, my mum said, ‘well you don’t have a job’ and kicked me out. That’s when I ended up on the street. 

I was living in my car for 2 or 3 months, but then my car broke down in Ipswich and I didn’t have any money. I got a bus back to Colchester and was on the streets there. I asked my other grandparents for some money, and they helped me fix my car. At this point, people had seen me walking around town a lot and my clothes were dirty. Then a man said I should call Beacon House and here I am. 

When I was on the streets here, any sort of change I had or anything I would gamble it. I had no money, but I got quite lucky, and I would win more. When I didn’t have a lot of money, it didn’t feel risky because there wasn’t much to lose. When I was at Emmaus at the beginning, I gambled on my phone a bit too, which was hard because it was so easy to do. I did get some support for it here, but I didn’t feel it was too much of a problem. It did get to a point that I didn’t care if I won, and I slowly stopped. 

Work Opportunities & Moving on 

Now I’m working full-time in a call centre, and I’m getting ready to move on from Emmaus and into my own shared flat. I got the job last September and I’ve been on the move-on scheme since then. I’ve been saving to pay a deposit and pay the first few months of rent. I’ll be living in a house-share and I’m excited. It will be a real sense of freedom. I’ve been living in the move-on flats here for a while and it was good to get a taster for that more independence before I moved out. 

The work opportunities at Emmaus are great – it’s hard work but it’s good to be busy. I was often in the transport office when I was working at Emmaus and that’s what made me want to work in a call centre. I was good on the phone, and I enjoyed it. I liked taking the calls and I liked talking to people. When I first got to the call centre, I was able to pick it up straight away thanks to the work experience I’d done in Emmaus. I was very calm. I’m a mentor now for new employees, and I’m able to help them and ease their nerves. 

The work experience here has been so beneficial, it’s built on skills I already had and given me the confidence to try new things. Learning telephone skills and listening skills has enabled me to get a good job, move out and gain independence.

 A funny one to say but before I’d moved here, I had never done my own washing, my grandparents told me off for touching the washing machine and wouldn’t let me cook much either. Now I can use the washing machine, and it sounds silly of course, but I didn’t know how to do that before I lived here. It feels good to be able to do things for yourself.

I’ve also gained so many people skills too. There’s 24 companions living in the community house, and I’ve never lived with that many people before! Getting to know everyone and learning people’s stories has been humbling, I’ve grown up since living here. I know that everyone has experienced issues and hard times. You start to think outside of yourself and try to start moving on from what’s happened to you. I’ve made really good friendships at Emmaus too; people have supported me to become more confident. 

When I started viewing houses, it felt quite scary, but I realised it was the end of a hard period of my life. It’s taken a while, but I’ve learnt to live in the present and not worry too much about the future or the past. Everything feels clearer that way. 

Emmaus really does help. You need to help yourself first of all by coming here. Then you can have a nice shower, a nice sleep, home cooked food made for you and start to move forward. 

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