I’ve had quite severe mental health problems since I was about 16, exacerbated by cannabis use and then later I got onto hard drugs.

Apart from a brief period where I was working, I spent most of my twenties in different places, hostels, a therapeutic community, hospital admissions, rehabs. Just being here, there, and everywhere basically.

When I went to a rehab clinic, I wasn’t able to apply myself and I ended up making myself homeless because I broke the rules and used drugs. I never really learned my lesson and just kept doing that. There was part of me that just couldn’t see another way, I’d sabotage every effort that I made.

Before I came to Emmaus I’d just been made homeless again. I was at a YMCA, but had to leave. Well, I chose to leave, I didn’t feel safe there, so I was staying at a night shelter.

Did you feel different when you came to Emmaus?

I didn’t feel different straight away when I came to Emmaus;  I felt pretty hopeless. It took a bit of time to see that I’d been given another chance and to really appreciate what I had. I no longer needed to self-medicate or act in a compulsive way with either gambling; buying things I didn’t really need or drinking.

I did have a seizure one day due to drinking alcohol; this scared me and was a wake up call. The Support staff helped me work through my difficulties and manage my emotions in a healthier way and helped me realise I needed to stay here longer for more support. You know, for me it was either change or leave and I managed to pull myself out of the hole I’d been digging and become a bigger, more productive part of the community. To be a bit more present and work through my problems rather than always having to numb myself.

What is a typical day at Emmaus for you?

At Emmaus, I do quite a lot on the books, making sure we have enough books on the shelves, keeping it tidy, making sure everything is priced correctly and scanning books to see if they are worth any more than we’d be able to sell them for and we’ll get those ones collected by a different company.

I’ve read a lot of books so I know or can work out different genres and different writers. I’ve got quite a good eye for something that looks like it might be worth a bit more, I’ll spot it quite easily.

I also do a bit of work on the shop floor and the till. I’ve got a lot more comfortable working with customers.

How does the work opportunities at Emmaus make you feel?

The work is good you know. I’m not always happy getting up to go to work, but I remind myself of everything that I’ve got and also everything I’ve got to lose.
I find it meaningful work, because I feel like I’m contributing. I’m putting something into the world and getting something out of it. I feel like I’m reaping what I sow in a way.

How do you feel about Emmaus?

I love Emmaus, I love the concept. Emmaus supports the person, there’s an understanding between me and the staff and they can see that I am trying.

Why should people donate to Emmaus or shop at Emmaus?

People should shop or donate to Emmaus because they are turning lives around and they’re helping people get off the streets and they’re reducing stigma.