When I came to Emmaus Glasgow I worked in retail. I like working in the shops. It’s new and different and you’re meeting people a lot of the time: people who are nice and kind. There are people who donate things that, at first glance, don’t look like they’re worth much money, then you feel shocked how much they’re worth when they’re repaired. Someone even donated a baby grand piano once, which was worth £1,000! That’s incredibly generous.
While I’ve been at Emmaus Glasgow, I’ve completed First Aid training several times, manual handling and also PAT testing electrical equipment to make sure it passes safety checks before it goes on sale. Achieving those qualifications made me feel good. Then in 2021, I stepped closer to moving on.
I remember the moment the Director of Emmaus Glasgow, Richard, told us someone was coming in to fit cameras and wifi and they were looking for people to help. I put my name down as it’s something I thought I would enjoy doing. After one week of working with Leisure Connect at the community building, John and Ian from the company said there were job opportunities; I applied and was accepted!
In my first week working for them, I was staying away in a hotel in the north of England. It felt great to use my body and mind in different ways, even though it’s tiring. I have to work out how to get a cable from one place to another in different circumstances each time and it’s satisfying when I’m finishing up and putting it together and see it starting to work.
I like that kind of stuff, technology. It’s my passion so I stuck at it but I never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing now. It’s good work and it’s something I enjoy. Some people think it’s an easy job, but it’s not. Emmaus just gives you the confidence to do it. It was the customers of Emmaus Glasgow who lifted my spirit, to overcome challenges by being kind, helpful and generous. It all helped with my resilience.
I’m also learning to manage my money here. When you join Emmaus, you get so much more: a place to live, meals and a paid holiday every so often. At the moment, I’m renting my room from Emmaus, which is providing my food and everyone is there for me, if I need to speak to someone. I have my name down with the council and I am getting ready to move out.
I was street homeless for a short period. I was homeless where I am originally from in Colchester, but I knew people and places I could go where I would be safe. Later on, I was at Emmaus Leeds, but moved out to live with my girlfriend. Within a few days of moving into our place in Southend, I was back out on the streets as the relationship ended. That was really hard because I didn’t know anyone. I couldn’t sign onto benefits because I had no fixed address. I felt really stressed. It got to the point where I almost decided to walk from Southend to Colchester, I knew the route to take on the back roads, but not very well. I was sleeping anywhere, a park bench, or someone I knew found a place over a wall. I did feel scared, especially in Southend because I didn’t know anyone.
A typical day just involved walking around. It was the only thing I could do. There was nowhere else to go. In Colchester at least I knew places to go, like the library and I knew people there who could help me out, like at a charity shop I was working in before I came to Emmaus. I wasn’t really eating. I didn’t know any soup kitchens to go to. As soon as I found out where to get help, I got myself sorted out, but I’d describe that time in my life in Southend on the streets as hard, very hard.
I’ll always remember sitting on the streets within an hour of leaving my former girlfriend’s house and someone coming up to me and asking if I was okay so I told them, and they went away, and ten minutes later they came back with some food.
Even at my lowest points at Emmaus, I’ve always been able to talk to staff and certain companions whom I trust. I’ll miss the companionship here. At Emmaus we’re always helping each other out. Some people find it hard at Emmaus at first, especially if they haven’t worked for a while, but persevere, stick at it and good things will happen.
In the future I’m planning to stay with Leisure Connect and to move out of Emmaus and get my own place. Hopefully, also take my driving test so I can move around. I’m very pleased. Leisure Connect is a good company to work for. I’m feeling good and looking forward what lies ahead.
My advice to others is, if a job opportunity appears, don’t dawdle about it. Go for it! Especially if you think it’s something you enjoy doing. Give it a go! I feel good now. I feel good about Emmaus creating that opportunity and that I decided to go for it.
If you or someone you know is at risk of homelessness or is currently homeless, you can find out more and apply to Join Our Community here.