At Emmaus Glasgow, I work on whatever is needed, whether it’s the shop, van, kitchen, cleaning or gardening; I give my all. I like the challenge of doing something different.
I first knew about Emmaus because the General Manager of the hostel I was staying in had gone to work for Emmaus Hertfordshire. This hostel had tried to give me help, but the wrong kind of help. They were focusing more on my problem with drink and drugs, instead of focusing on what was causing this, and what caused this was my miscarriage and the fact that I had no support.
Then I joined Emmaus in St Albans in 2011, I was drinking a lot, but when I got there, I decided I wasn’t going to do this anymore. I got help with AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and I got the right support that I needed. Emmaus got me help to deal with my bereavement, they got me counselling for sexual abuse, they set me up with a lot of different counselling.
When I was in St Albans I learned how to upholster. Then I went to Emmaus Burnley where I did Core Skills in Counselling One, Two and Three, Health and Social Care Level One, Drugs and Alcohol Awareness Level 3 and while I was there, they sent me on a mental health training course. I’ve done my First Aid training a few times. In Glasgow I’ve done First Aid courses, Health and Hygiene, and I’ve done a few online ones such as Fire Safety, Customer Services and Dealing with Challenging Behaviour. Emmaus has helped me realise that I can achieve something. That I’m not a failure; I’m not a waste of space.
Emmaus Glasgow has referred me to counselling to help me deal with my abuse and the bereavements in my family. They also have therapy here that helps with memory issues from my dyspraxia. I’ve been doing driving lessons here too.
It gives me hope being at Emmaus, and every Emmaus I’ve been in say I would make a good support worker. They see that in me. I’m currently studying health and social care at college. Staff here are really good at breaking it down for me and helping me understand the business and legislation. I would like to work for a charity when I’m ready to leave, and I know, one hundred percent, that the support is there from Emmaus when I’m ready.
Being a female on the streets is not easy. I was street homeless for about a year. I’ve been attacked. I lived in 20 different types of overnight hostels because I was street homeless. I could have gone to any one of my family members, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was a failure. Being street homeless was quite scary because you never knew what was coming.
Emmaus has offered me stability for my age group. Between 30 and 50, there aren’t a lot of hostels you can live in long term or places that can offer you that kind of help. There are a lot for 16 to 24 or 50 plus. Emmaus serves this age bracket very well.
One thing I love about Emmaus is that it’s not just giving someone a bed, but it’s giving someone a reason to get out of it. Emmaus is one of Scotland’s and England’s best kept secrets. What people don’t realise is, whether it’s the phone call you make or the person coming in or the person in the house, customers are actually meeting with the people who are being helped. I’ve read Rags to Riches by founder Abbé Pierre loads of times. I think this is something Abbé Pierre would have wanted, you can actually see the difference it’s making.
I love the solidarity aspect to Emmaus; that we support other people in the community in need. Again, not a lot of charities do that.
Solidarity starts in house. Whether that’s giving someone a cup of tea when they’re down, or, for example, someone moved in and wanted a tea strainer, and everyone was looking through drawers in rooms for something. Whether you’re a companion or member of staff, we all try to help.
The reason we’re called companions is because we ‘break bread’ together. It’s like a big family. I’ve got lots of little brothers. I like the fact that I’m not treated differently because I’m female.
There’s always hope. There’s always someone who cares, even if you don’t think there is. Another thing I’d say that Emmaus has done for me is that it has helped me forgive. Not just Emmaus, but also because of the counselling the charity has recommended for me. If some stuff hadn’t happened in my life, would I be where I am today? I will never know, but it has made me stronger. They have made me stronger, the people around me.
I would like to be a support worker in the future whether that’s at Emmaus or another charity. I want to move on. I was a victim as a child, but I’m not a victim of child abuse, I’m a survivor of it.
*Our companion’s name has been changed for the purposes of sharing her story.
If you know someone who is homeless or at risk who would like a room, training and support with Emmaus Glasgow, please visit Our Community page for more details and how to apply.