“I was on and off the streets for years, struggling with depression after the death of my son. This went on for a long time. I didn’t feel like myself and I couldn’t deal with it, so I moved out of the flat I was living in and disappeared for a while.

Being homeless, I knew I could hide and be invisible, so that’s what I did. My home was wherever I laid my sleeping bag. At night, I slept on the north side of the Thames and, in the daytime, I’d sit in parks smoking cannabis to try and numb the pain. It didn’t help.

I was still living on the streets in London when my keyworker at The Connection at St Martin’s set up an interview for me at Emmaus Hertfordshire. I used to volunteer at Emmaus Lambeth, so I already knew a lot about the charity. A few weeks later, the staff in the community showed me around and we had a good chat. At the end of my visit, they said: ‘What are you doing next Wednesday?’. I told them it was the same thing I’d be doing tonight, tomorrow night and the next night. Sleeping on the streets. ‘Nope, you’re not’, they said. ‘We have a room for you.’ My keyworker jumped for joy. I wanted to shout from the rooftops.

It was the change I needed, but I found it very hard. Back then, I was argumentative with everybody and so angry at the world. I couldn’t accept the loss of my son. It’s the worst thing you can ever go through. It took quite a while for me to get settled into the community, but after about two years it started to feel like home.

I moved into Emmaus Dover in July 2020. After all the stuff that had gone on in my life, I wanted a fresh start, a change of scenery. It was really scary ‘cause it was all new. I’d left my security blanket and everything I was used to back in Hertfordshire. But everyone in the community accepted me straight away. The staff really do make time for you. If you’ve got a problem and you need to talk to someone, they will stop and sit and listen to you. They’ve got big hearts.

When you’re homeless, you’ve got no routine whatsoever. Emmaus gave my life structure. You get up, have your breakfast, come down for the morning meeting, then off you go to start your jobs for the day, whether it’s PAT testing or deliveries on the vans. It gives me the motivation to keep going. I’ve also been having weekly counselling sessions with Emmaus Dover’s Support Worker. I’ve been to quite a few counsellors in my life, but here I feel like I’m actually being listened to.

I was studying to be a support worker myself before I lost my son. I was 14 months into the course when everything happened, so I never finished it. Now, I’m thinking about applying for Emmaus UK’s Companion Training Fund so I can finally complete it and get my qualification. I’ve been through a lot and have personal experiences others can relate to, so I feel like I can really help people.”


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