In late 2015 I moved from Belfast to London to find work. A few months later, after having difficulty where I was living, I found myself homeless. Thankfully, I had a friend an hour from London, who gave me a place to stay while I looked for work and somewhere to live. I was limited financially and that’s when I found Emmaus in Colchester after some Google searches.
Emmaus offers people without homes a safe and clean place to live and gives them a job in their charity shops, which sell goods to provide the money to maintain the community. Emmaus Colchester has four shops, two High Street shops and two warehouses, where they sell furniture and all manner of bric-a-brac, clothes, CDs and DVDs and just about anything that can be re-sold.
Emmaus doesn’t just give people somewhere to stay, it motivates them. Having regular work, more than enough food and a place to live, offers people the means to live comfortably, while they make themselves ready to go back out to independent living. They offer the chance for people to undertake courses in both practical and academic terms, to renew their passports, to do community and solidarity work and to rebuild sometimes fractured lives.
I came to Emmaus Colchester in February 2016 and in the seven months I have been here I have been learning new skills that could be very beneficial to potential employers when I come to move on. I am also getting a chance to save some money to support me when I leave and I have a warm, safe place to live and good people around me. I only get a small allowance each week but when you factor in the cost of living, rent, electric, food, the Internet, and toiletries it is obvious that I have everything I need and more. I got my passport renewed, I get holiday pay and travel expenses to use as I please, and after six months I was able to take a week off to fly back to Ireland and see my family. We can also borrow goods that are for sale to make the spaces we occupy more homely.
For all of the positives and negatives people will inevitably find with a place like Emmaus, I can only say my personal experience has been brilliant. I am very grateful for what I have because there are many people who have nothing. I myself went through a period of emotional uncertainty, so I know what it is like to be without and to struggle. All over England and beyond, hundreds if not thousands of people, are safe and warm and have relatively comfortable lives that would not be possible with Emmaus.
I will stay here for a while and see how things go, but I am very happy with life at the moment. The staff have been very accommodating and helpful.