After his dad left the family home and his parents relationship broke down, Michael’s mother became a Jehovah’s Witness, and at the age of 15 Michael was given an ultimatum – become a Jehovah’s Witness or leave the family home. 

“I left home and school at 15, and after that my life began to fall apart. I was sleeping rough and started hanging out with the wrong crowd drinking and doing drugs. My first custodial sentence was in 1997 when I was 17, and from then on, my life was spent in and out of prison.

When I was 21, I got my first proper job as a window fitter. For about two years it went really well and I behaved myself and kept out of trouble, but I was young and naïve and when my boss went on holiday for two weeks, I was offered work with a local drug dealer, all I saw was the chance to earn a lot of money very quickly, and I again fell into drinking and taking drugs and once more ended up in prison.

Once I was released, I tried to settle down again and spent five years as a labourer, but the guy I was working for also dabbled in drug dealing on the side, and I was again caught up in trouble and in and out of prison. It was a vicious circle that carried on throughout my twenties, until my last custodial sentence in 2008.

Through all these times I was either sofa surfing or sleeping rough, I didn’t really have my own place to live until I met my girlfriend Becky when I was in my late twenties, and we started living together; she has her own mental health issues though, which means that things can be a bit up and down and quite often I would find myself back on the streets or sleeping on friends sofa’s until things calmed down. We both liked to drink which meant things could get a bit volatile between us.

We lost our tenancy in 2019, Becky was given a hotel room and I went to the Nightshelter, where I stayed until I was offered an Interview at Emmaus Colchester. I moved into the community and the structure and the routine definitely helped keep me occupied and off the drink and drugs.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing though and I left the community in January 2022, as I had once again started drinking and getting into fights. I went back to live with Becky, but after a decline in her mental health I had to leave. I was once again sleeping rough or sofa surfing, but by this point I was ready to make a change and kick the habit for good.

I moved back into the Emmaus Colchester community in May 2022, and once I returned I was able to conquer some demons for good. I still take every day as it comes, and I do have some challenges left to fight, but the support at Emmaus has helped make me a better person and the team continue to help guide me to make better decisions, and I hope this will continue.”

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