In 2016 my mum passed away and I split up with my partner. Shortly after that one of my sisters also passed away. That triggered the start of a mental health breakdown as I just wasn’t coping with everything that had happened.

I went to London and started to sleep rough. I slept on the streets for about three weeks. Sometimes I was able to sleep at night, but often we were moved on so I wasn’t able to sleep properly. Sometimes people would walk past me and turn their nose up at me, but I found the homeless facilities that were available really helpful. One of them told me about Emmaus. I had never heard of it so I spoke to a few people who told me a little about what Emmaus does but I wanted to see for myself what it was like.

Would I fit in?

I applied to live at  Emmaus Gloucestershire and was offered a place. I was really nervous when I first arrived. Was it going to be a place where I would fit in? I felt on edge but I just got my head down and got on with it and soon things started to feel normal.

I became the Companion Rep at Emmaus Gloucestershire which meant I attended meetings and represented the other companions in the community.  The role involves helping the other companions out and if they have any issues, working with them and the staff in the community to resolve them.

I liked the Emmaus way but fancied a change so I applied to move to Emmaus Glasgow and arrived here in July 2020.

Learning new skills

During lockdown I did my PACT testing training. Someone came into the community for the day to train me and this was paid for by Emmaus Glasgow. This means I can test all the electrical items that are donated to us to make sure they are safe to sell on.  I have also done a lot of IHASCO training, which is online training in lots of things including Food Hygiene, Manual Handling, Fire Warden and lots more.

If I am not working on PACT testing items that have been donated, my day to day at Emmaus Glasgow tends to be on the van, collecting items that have been donated to us. I also work in the shop.  I worked for a major High Street retailer for 20 years, sorting stock and taking charge of deliveries into the store so it’s great to use this experience at Emmaus.

Gaining more responsibility

Since being at Emmaus Glasgow I have become the Companion Rep here and have become what is known as a Responsible Person. It’s a bit different to when I was the Companion Rep at Emmaus Gloucester as lots of the meetings have been done on Zoom due to COVID-19.

The best part of living in an Emmaus community is getting to meet all the different people who come to the shops or donate furniture to us. I like that interaction with people.

Living with lots of other people is not always easy, and what I have learned is there is a lot of give and take needed to live within a community but overall it is a positive experience. I want to use the experience I have gained through living at Emmaus Gloucestershire and Emmaus Glasgow to help other people and to become a Support Worker for Emmaus. That is my ultimate goal.

Finding a sense of purpose

I’d recommend Emmaus to anyone who is experiencing homelessness. It is more than a home; it gives you a sense of purpose.  What I have found living at both communities is that there is always someone there to help you. It’s a good way to help you to get back on your feet.

*Our companion’s name has been changed for the purposes of sharing his story.