A man currently being supported by Emmaus Gloucestershire after being homeless for nearly twenty years is celebrating now that he has completed his business course.

Michael, 29, was first homeless at the age of seven with his mother and continued to be homeless on-and-off for nearly twenty years before finding Emmaus. With the support of the community, Michael completed a six lesson business course which taught him the basics of starting your own business.

Michael grew up in Galway, Ireland, with his parents and four siblings. Back then, separation was frowned upon and his mother became isolated from their extended family after his father left them. Michael’s mother tried her best to keep the family together, but three of his siblings were put into foster care, and Michael, along with his mother and sister, became homeless multiple times.

They went on to spend the following years sleeping in cars, and in the boot of cars because his mother thought it would be safer, in the woods, on beaches, and in hostels when there was space. Michael never had a stable upbringing, didn’t finish school, or celebrate birthdays and Christmas.

At 15, Michael resorted to committing minor crimes to get by, which soon escalated into serious crimes throughout adulthood. Leaving Ireland in 2014 after life became too much saw Michael move into his brother’s house in Northampton. After that didn’t go to plan, Michael found himself on the street again not knowing if he would survive in the cold weather without food, winter clothing and somewhere warm to sleep.

On the fifth day of rough sleeping in Northampton, Michael found out about Emmaus, and joined the Coventry & Warwickshire community before moving to Emmaus Gloucestershire in 2017 and has been working towards rebuilding his life through training, gaining new skills in our five second-hand shops, and getting involved in solidarity projects like Operation Backpack and the weekly soup kitchen to help other rough sleepers.

In Emmaus, Michael is looking forward to his future now, whereas he wouldn’t have seen that as a possibility going back two or three years.

“Without Emmaus, I don’t think I would be around right now and it has given me a lifeline to a better future. I’ve just finished the business course, which taught me the basics of setting up my own business and at the end I had to present a business idea. With the help of Emmaus, I’d like to take this further and also get my reading and writing skills up to scratch. Eventually, I would like to be employed, hopefully with my own business, and own home – that’s the ultimate aim.”

To find out how you can get involved with Emmaus Gloucestershire and help us support people like Michael, visit here.