I’m originally from Dover. I used to buy all my furniture for my flat from Emmaus Dover. I was a regular customer and would come to the Fort a few times a week with my Aimee (Garry’s dog, pictured above with Garry).
A couple of years ago life started to unfold which eventually led to me losing my flat, with very short notice to leave by. Having a dog was making things difficult to find somewhere to live. I had a few different choices, wait for the council to house me in a bedsit without Aimee, and given the housing situation at the time it seemed likely that I’d end up outside Dover, which I didn’t want because I’ve lived here all of my life. Another option was sofa surfing with friends, but you can’t do that for very long, or I’d end up on the streets.
I had a conversation with Debbie (Emmaus Dover’s Community Manager) and I was offered a room and was also told I could bring Aimee with me. Although at first it was a bit difficult to adjust because it’s very different living in the community to where I was living, ultimately, it’s been a great choice for me.
I’m a trained barber, I cut everyone’s hair in the community, but I don’t want to go back to that as a profession. I really admire the support workers here in the community, I find them quite inspirational, and they suggested that it might be an option for me to study Support Work. Sharon (one of the community’s support workers) has organized a new course for me. The first course is on-line in the evenings and will cover different areas such as drugs and alcohol, support for people with disabilities, and so on. Emmaus Dover is supplying me with a laptop. I’ve never taken any exams in my life. I left school to become a barber before taking GCSEs as at the time I thought it was going to be my career for life; so, I haven’t ever to take an exam like that. I’ve got full support from my family, they’re glad that I’m making the most of my time here at Emmaus.
I love the way the support team work with all of us. Everyone seems to want to come to talk to me when they have problems – I don’t know why! Even when I was a bouncer, another job I used to do previously, it was important to me to make sure everyone was safe and taken care of. I used to volunteer in a community project with my mum, helping support people with different needs including Down’s Syndrome. When I first became a barber, there were lots of places within the town which would refuse to serve people with certain disabilities, but I would always serve everyone.
I’ve been at the community for about a year now. Once I’ve completed the course I’d love a job that is similar to what the support team do here. I sadly had to have Aimee put to sleep and I didn’t want to do anything for a while. But I’m now starting to feel better, I really want to give back and say a big thank you for what I’ve been given since coming to Emmaus Dover.