I had an addiction which led to me becoming homeless and living on the streets for a few months.

I was in my early twenties, so quite young. Becoming homeless was a massive shock. The first night was terrifying, to be honest. It was the city I had grown up in, so I knew it like the back of my hand, but it felt completely different when I was trying to find somewhere safe to sleep. It was really unsettling coming across people who were using hard drugs; they were mostly unseen during the day, so it was unnerving to suddenly encounter them.

I carried my whole life in my bag, which took its toll. I’d worry about where my next meal was going to come from. I was quite fortunate that there were soup kitchens I could use, so I managed to get a hot meal most days. I had some friends who would bring me things or let me stay on their sofa for the night, but mostly I was cold, uncomfortable, and very lonely.

I often didn’t speak to anyone for hours on end. I didn’t like begging, but I had to do it. People would walk around me and avoid eye contact; they wouldn’t see me as a human being. The nicest thing I can remember was when a man offered to buy me a coffee, and he sat down next to me and chatted whilst I drank it. It was a small thing, but it meant a lot. Nowadays if I see someone in that situation, I’ll do the same – I’ll offer to buy them food or drink, but also stop for a chat.


I struggled to get housing from the council because I was a single bloke in my twenties, so I was low priority. I eventually got emergency accommodation which led to temporary housing. I got a job, moved out of the city and things were going well for a while, until I relapsed. I needed to do something drastic to change track in a big way. I was ready for more structured help, so I took myself to rehab. I was there for a couple of years, and it really worked for me.

Finding Emmaus

My friend recommended Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire, so when I was ready to leave, I applied for a room in the community. Emmaus was brilliant from day one. I was welcomed by the Support Manager who showed me around and it felt very homely. I had my own bedroom, which was a big thing because we had dormitory rooms in the rehab facility. It was great to have my own space. Having a door with a lock felt very important and I felt safe. There was always someone watching TV in the evenings, so if I wanted a bit of company, I could go to the lounge too.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Emmaus. The work was very rewarding. I’ve always had quite a strong work ethic, so when I finished a day’s work, I felt like I’d done something useful. The structured timetable each week really helped keep me busy. I think that having something to get out of bed for, is one of the most important things about Emmaus. Doing something fulfilling gives you a purpose.

Everyone was friendly and the support team were brilliant – there for me when I needed them. They gradually helped get things back on track and supported me to move on when I was ready.

After 18 months I got a full-time job and moved out. Unfortunately, the job didn’t work out, so I came back after six months. One of the good things about Emmaus is they understand that everyone needs different support at different times, so I was able to return until I had a new plan in place.

Giving back

After six months, I moved into some supported housing, which was a step closer to full independence.

I started volunteering at Emmaus for one day each week, helping out in the Coventry charity shop serving customers. Volunteering is a way for me to give back. I’d recommend it because no day is the same and it’s a lovely bunch of people. It looks good on your CV, you can meet people from all sorts of walks of life, and you know that every penny you’re making in the shop is going to a good cause.

I’m optimistic about the future now. I’ve recently moved in with my partner, which is exciting. I’ll keep volunteering and when I feel ready, I’m planning to get back into being a support worker, which is something I’ve done before. I used work with young adults with mental health issues, so I’m going to investigate training opportunities in that area and hope to find a paid role.

Emmaus is a big part of my life and a big part of my story. I’m really glad I found it.