Monday 23 October 2017

Job success for Martin Allen

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Two years before discovering Emmaus Hertfordshire, Martin Allen (47) was living on the streets following the breakdown of his marriage. After failing to obtain a council house, Martin decided he couldn’t see a way out of homelessness and fearing that he wouldn’t be able to see his two daughters again, he considered taking his own life.

“I must admit I attempted suicide, I really believed my life was over. I was trying to sleep when no-one was out who might see me, but that meant that I was unable to get a good night’s sleep as I thought someone might rob me.”

Martin saw a glimmer of hope when his friend mentioned Emmaus Hertfordshire might be able to help.

Emmaus Hertfordshire provides a home and meaningful work for up to 35 people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion, offering them an alternative route out of homelessness and a fantastic way of life within a supportive environment. Companions (formerly homeless people) work full time while they are at Emmaus selling and upcycling second-hand furniture and household items at its Tring, St Albans, Harpenden, Barnet, Hertford and Hemel Hempstead shops charity shops. The income generated through Emmaus’ shops goes straight back into the community and enables companions to develop skills, rebuild their self-respect and help others in greater need than themselves.

 “A couple of my friends found out I was sleeping rough and put me up over Christmas. One of them brought up Emmaus, based in Hill End, St Albans, and I decided to give it a go. The idea of working again really appealed to me, I just wanted the stability. My life changed the minute I arrived.”

While living at the community, Martin received some support from Emmaus UK towards passing his motorbike test and now, two years on, he has a job at Emmaus Hertfordshire as a van driver.

“Emmaus allowed me to rebuild myself and gave me self-worth. I just sort myself out properly, and that’s exactly what living at the community does for people. I now see my daughters every other weekend; they’ve even called my motorbike ‘Emma’ in honour of Emmaus!”

Martin now lives in Dunstable, with his girlfriend.

“My life is back on track thanks to Emmaus Hertfordshire. People don’t realise that by donating their old furniture, we can support ourselves as a community by recycling it. I believe in myself now; if I set my mind to something I can do something, my mojo has officially returned and I am so grateful.”