Steve helped set up a gym at our community home last year to help boost the physical and mental health of fellow residents whom Emmaus Dover is supporting to move on from homelessness – and he has helped grow the number of people exercising here seven-fold in the last 12 months.

When he was made redundant from his job of 25 years and separated from his wife, Steve’s depression worsened and he turn to alcohol to cope.

With the home and support provided by Emmaus, Steve started to better manage his mental health through exercise, medication, support and regular counselling.

In addition to gaining work experience at charity’s shops and services at Archcliffe Fort, Steve also focused on helping Emmaus encourage fitness and nutrition among fellow residents, known by our community as companions.

Gym at our homelessness charity Emmaus Dover

Steve can now add his fully-funded Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMPSA) qualification to several other nutrition and physical health courses, and is now studying for level three with plans to open his own gym focusing on mental health.

Steve said, “If you speak to someone who has lived experience of mental health issues who has the same personal fitness qualifications compared with someone who hasn’t gone through that, the person with this experience is better able to understand and support what other people are going through.

“At Emmaus, I help to train and encourage some companions to start their physical and mental health journeys. I’m a true believer in the connection between physical health and good internal health which leads to good mental health.

“Since coming to Emmaus I’ve never looked back. It has given me a chance to reset my life. I want to help other people with mental ill health issues, within a safe gym environment, so they can begin their own journey in small achievable steps.”

During his journey with Emmaus, Steve has also become the chairperson of a committee representing other companions from Emmaus communities across the UK, where he advocates training and work opportunities for the impact it has on people who are building back from homelessness.

Steve added: “I one hundred per cent believe in the empowerment of companions through training, whatever that may be, in making themselves feel productive, ambitious and proactive within the community and in themselves.”

To find out more about how you can help Emmaus Dover, you can visit Support Us here.