I’ve been in Emmaus for a little over 18 months. I was camping wild locally, not on a campsite or anything, because I find that when you are homeless it’s safer to be away from other people that are homeless to save what little stuff you’ve got.

I didn’t know anything about Emmaus at the time. I used to work near an Emmaus community and knew about the little shop there, but I had no idea what Emmaus was until I came here years later. I’d been camping wild around Dover for a few weeks, and I was coming into Emmaus to buy little things like pots to cook with, extra sleeping bags, etc. One day, I asked if I could possibly have a bath in exchange for some work. And about a week later, ended up being offered a room and staying here.

Living at Emmaus

The best thing of moving into Emmaus, for me, was as simple as the roof over my head. Somewhere to bathe and keep myself clean, and a fantastic diet. I have never had a diet as healthy as the one that I’ve enjoyed for the last 18 months. I’m a pescatarian, so I don’t eat mammals or birds, which pretty much cancels out what’s provided for the other companions. So I cater for myself. And I have never eaten as well as I have been doing here, such abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The accommodation is as clean as I keep it, which is pretty clean! It’s also warm, and I get along with other companions – I really want for nothing. The difficulty will be to find something of this quality or a job that would pay for me to rent something of this quality when I move on.

Emmaus also provides us with some great opportunities, although I don’t think people take advantage of them as much as they should. Personally, I’m not comfortable working in the shops and dealing with customers, so I mostly cover for other people here and there and work in the community taking care of the garden. I care for the plants and pots in the Garden Centre, mainly growing stuff in pots while another companion cares for the grounds.

I started a horticultural course about a year ago which covered pretty much anything that one would need to know if you were setting yourself up in the gardening business. Everything from growing plants from seed to planning a garden, building pathways and patios. I ended up abandoning the course halfway through because it was unlikely that I was ever going to set up in the gardening business, but it has really helped in making myself useful to the community while I’m here, which was the main reason I joined the course in the first place. I picked up bits of information that potentially saved money because I’m not making mistakes that I would have made otherwise. I was the only companion that took part in this course at the time, but I’ve made the knowledge available to anyone who wants to look into it, as it’s all available online.

Unfortunately, we’re not growing our own fruit and vegetables at the rate that we should be to support ourselves. It’s a big commitment, and if the vegetables weren’t readily available maybe we would, but I think because they’re just so easy to find elsewhere it’s not something that we’ve been pursuing.

Moving on

It has never been my intention to stay in Emmaus until I retired, it’s more of a temporary thing until I found a job. I’m pretty much disaffected by the private side of employment, so I’m looking to find work in the public sector. I think the kind of thing that would suit me is a position where I wouldn’t be dealing directly with the public. I’ve been thinking about getting into security, like a watchman or CCTV operator, and I’m looking into getting my Security Industry Authority (SIA) certificate. The difficulty that I’m facing is that I’m struggling to find the documentation needed to apply, as I don’t have a birth certificate or passport at the moment. I have no form of ID – I can’t even vote, never mind apply for public jobs. At the moment, the community is helping me with this so I can move on.