I was a victim of domestic abuse during my childhood, and as an adult this really affected me.

It led me to develop quite a severe drug addiction. I ended up hooked on cocaine for three years. I got into a lot of debt, and I lost my home and my relationship because I didn’t tell my partner the truth about the problems I was facing.

I owed a lot of money to a lot of people. I once had someone assault me and hold me by the neck, because I owed them money. I ended up using my nanna’s inheritance to pay them off.

It was a very dark time in my life. After I split up with my ex, I was homeless for about five months. I started living with my brother – there were two of us sleeping in his very small, rented room, but then just after Christmas his landlady found out and threatened him with eviction if I didn’t leave. I had no choice: I had to leave, and I was rough sleeping from January until the end of March.

Getting clean, drug-wise, was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through. I did it all by myself and it was absolutely horrible. The people I knew from that world were still around me, so there was constant temptation. I thought they were my good friends, but all they did was try to get me to start again. I had to take myself away. I’d rather have no friends and be clean, than be a druggie and have fake friends. I feel really proud of myself for doing it.

A turning point: finding Emmaus

The council helped me apply to Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney and I went over to try it out. After two days, they handed me the paperwork and said, “welcome home”. It was a very nice feeling. I moved in and I lived there for about ten months before I moved up to join Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire.

One of the best things about being at Emmaus was that I was treated like an adult. The support team were there to help me out. It was a two-way trust thing, and they never talked down to me. They looked me in the eye and they treated me with respect. At Emmaus, f you’re willing to help yourself then there will be someone to back you and guide you every step of the way.

Whilst at Emmaus, I did training in Food Safety, Manual Handling and Fire Safety. I was a Fire Marshall, so it was my job to help get everyone out if there was a fire.

I also bought myself a bike, thanks to the Emmaus UK Companion Training Fund. That was really important to me. I was able get out, get fit again and it helped improve my mental health too.

When I was at school, my favourite subject was food technology and I’ve always liked cooking. Everyone at Emmaus said I was a good cook and I enjoyed preparing evening meals for the companions.

Moving forward: a new start

Being at Emmaus helped to improve my confidence and I felt supported until I was ready to be a responsible adult again.

I recently left Emmaus to move in with my partner. I was really pleased to get a job in a pub. I love my new job, and everything seems to be falling into place now. I feel ready to start talking about my past and so I’ve accessed some counselling which will begin soon.

I still go cycling but I’ve also started driving lessons, which is giving me a sense of freedom I’ve never experienced before. I’ve just got my passport so we’ve got a holiday booked, which I really looking forward to.

My ultimate, lifetime goal is to have my own pub. I feel at home when I’m working behind the bar. I love it and I feel so confident when I’m doing it; I feel on top of the world. I know there’s a lot of work to do; I need qualifications in Business Management and more, so I’m hoping I can start down that path.

I loved being at Emmaus and really appreciated the support I got from the team there. At times, it was challenging to live with the other companions but ultimately Emmaus was brilliant. My self-esteem is so much better now. Emmaus helped me get where I needed to be, giving me the courage and confidence to get back out there. I feel so much stronger now.