After my relationship broke down in 1992, I couldn’t hold down my job anymore and ended up on the street.
I got into a drink culture and everyone knows that when you drink, everything that you had planned to do tomorrow never comes. Once I got into the cycle it was so hard to break because alcohol is so cheap. A fiver used to do me because I could get five cans of strong lager. You could give me a drink and a handful of tablets and I would take them – I didn’t have a clue what I was taking.
I’ve been sectioned three times for my own safety. I had a psychiatrist in hospital but once I had done the 28 days it was a matter of going to my own GP to get the medication. They were giving me a sedative in the morning and the evening, knowing that I was drinking alcohol. Half the time I was walking around like a zombie. There’s no cure for mental health and when you go into these places, they give you downers because everyone is relaxed then. I never got offered any support with housing or anything. Once I was out, I was back in a week later.
I used to sleep rough outside a Japanese restaurant because there was an office block opposite which had 24-hour security. This made me feel safer, but I never slept deeply. The guy at the restaurant didn’t know I was there for the first six months. It’s only because I got back early one night, and I thought wrongly that he had already left. He said anytime I wanted food to get there for half nine and he’d do me a plate. His offer wasn’t one I’d see often back then. I’d usually get called all sorts, and one time I even got pissed on.
In 2011 I ended up in hospital with a kidney infection due to alcohol. I remember to this day a young doctor telling me that the next time I’d be in hospital, I’d be in the morgue. That was the wakeup call that I needed. After that I saw the hospital social worker who put me in touch with Victoria Turning Point where I did an 18-month day patient detox. I heard about Emmaus at the end of my programme and went to Emmaus Greenwich. That was the turning point in my life – I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for Emmaus.
In November 2019 I moved to Emmaus Dover. Emmaus has got me on the straight and narrow, and I’ve now got a purpose in life. I look forward to getting up and going to work. I can’t remember the last time I had a day off sick. I like it at Emmaus because I get to do something different every day, I like the variety. I also like that I’ve got people around me who have also been in the same boat. I’m happy here – it feels like a family. I also like to thank the staff here at Emmaus Dover, they are all fantastic.