Dover local, Anthony Ham, found himself homeless in 2017 when a series of events turned his life upside down: “I lost my job and experienced a personal bereavement. Money trouble and a relationship break-up all snowballed into the need to seek solace in something. I chose alcohol. It buried me deeper in the sand and before I knew it everything had slipped. It started off as one little catalyst, and it just started to slowly erode me.”
Whilst homeless, Anthony was faced with extreme weather conditions: “The nights are really long and cold. I would spend half the night trying to get warm and when I finally did get to sleep people came around and moved me along. I was tired all the time, it was a never-ending cycle. I would spend the days avoiding getting my clothes wet by trying to find shelter wherever I could. But then I couldn’t sit in the same spot for too long because I got freezing cold if I didn’t keep moving. It was just like Groundhog Day every single day.”
Anthony experienced a lonely Christmas whilst sleeping rough on the streets of Dover: “It cuts you deep when you’re homeless at Christmas. It was hard because it’s everywhere. It’s in the shop windows, it’s on the TV and everyone is getting prepared to enjoy the festive period. If there’s a day that I didn’t feel part of society, it was Christmas day. It’s painful to think of past Christmases spent with loved ones because I just didn’t feel part of it anymore.”
Taking steps to rebuild his life, Anthony moved to Emmaus Dover: “Emmaus has come up trumps where other organisations have failed. I have gotten so much support from the staff, as well as the other companions. The Companion Training Fund at Emmaus UK has funded a Forward Tipping Dumper course and a CSCS card for me, they’re worth gold. The training has made my future look bright and has given me so many more opportunities that I can grasp hold of. It’s the springboard I needed to bounce back up.”
This Christmas, Anthony will be celebrating with others at Emmaus Dover: “I’m looking forward to Christmas this year. There is a feeling of togetherness with the other residents at Emmaus, it doesn’t feel so lonely. I’ve got a nice warm room, food on the table and the staff even get us presents.”
Emmaus Dover offers an alternative route out of homelessness within a supportive environment for 27 men and women who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion. Those supported at the community live together and help to manage the charity’s three shops in Ashford, Canterbury and Dover which gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and in turn raises funds to run the charity.