On World Homeless Day (10 October) a Coventry man is sharing his experience of alcohol addiction and thanking Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire for helping him change his life.

Phil Rodgers (46) has now turned his life around after alcoholism led to the breakdown of his relationship and unemployment:

“My career as a chef started when I was 17. Over the years I worked with people like Raymond Blanc and by my forties I was living in a nice house with my partner and two children. I was managing a pub and I would have a few pints with the locals. I started to use alcohol to help me sleep during breaks and suddenly it felt normal to drink on my days off too. I had become a functioning alcoholic.”

As his addiction worsened, Phil ended up in trouble:

“My drinking started to become a massive problem until finally I was arrested for drink driving and given a prison sentence.

“I lost my job and my home so quickly. Everything was gone.”

As his release date neared, Phil faced more difficulties:

“I had no home to go to and no relatives or friends to offer me a sofa to sleep on. I would have been living on the streets in the cold, which wouldn’t have been a happy ending.”

Prison support workers helped him secure a place at Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire. Our homelessness charity gave him a place to live and the support he needed to continue to overcome his alcohol addiction:

“When I arrived, I finally felt safe; I had a home for as long as I needed it.”

Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire provides a home and meaningful work for 18 people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion. Some stay for a few months as they gain confidence and skills before they are ready to move on to independent living; others are in need of longer-term support and are able to stay for as long as they need to.

Phil is now getting the support he needs:

“I’ve enrolled with a service for people with addiction issues. I also access regular counselling and I’m working on examining the reasons behind my drinking. I grew up in the early eighties when men weren’t encouraged to talk about their feelings; we were told to ‘man up and deal with it’. No one talked about mental health.”

Phil is now hopeful for the future and grateful for the support he has received:

“Emmaus have given me a chance to pause and think about what’s next. I want to further my education and improve my CV. When I leave, I want to go back into the food industry. I’d like to do some good in the world. I’ve realised that homelessness can happen to anyone for many different reasons, at any stage of life. I’m finally starting to gain self-confidence and realise I’m not a bad person. I’ve made some terrible choices in the past but I’m not a disaster. There is hope.”

Find out more if you have been inspired by Phil’s story and want to help our charity. It can be as simple as donating unwanted furniture or picking up a bargain at our second-hand furniture shop on Red Lane in Coventry. Fancy a chat? Call us on 02476 651094.