My name is Becky, and I went to live at Emmaus Hertfordshire with my partner, Sam, when I was 24.

I was working at a sandwich shop in Dover, when I found out that I needed an operation. The shop refused to give me the time off I needed so I had to leave. With no other income, my partner, Sam, and I couldn’t afford the rent on our flat. With nowhere else to go, we had no other option but to return to my family home. I had been in an abusive relationship with my mum when I was growing up so this move was an incredibly difficult decision for us to make.

We had been living with my mum for a few months when we returned home one day to find all our belongings on the doorstep. My mum had kicked us out. We were homeless and didn’t know where to go or what to do next.

Sam had some friends in Hasting so we decided to travel to there. For four months, our home was a tent in a field. It was a difficult time. Each day we would walk into Hastings town centre to find food, some kind of help or support, and to give us something to do. It was an hour-long walk each way, but at least it filled the time.

All the support we were offered didn’t cater to our needs, so it felt we were stuck with no way out. On one occasion, I was offered a place on my own at a women’s refuge in Brighton. They wanted me to leave Sam behind, but we didn’t want to be separated from each other.

In August 2014, after spending four months homeless, we found out that there were rooms available at Emmaus Hertfordshire. As soon as we walked into the community it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders. We were offered a hot drink, some food and a bed. We were so happy; we had craved this for such a long time.

Emmaus instantly felt like home.

One of the best things about living at Emmaus was the chance to work in its social enterprise. It gave me the opportunity to rebuild my confidence and self-esteem and to develop lots of new skills. Emmaus gave me the chance to take part in lots of training, and over the course of two years, I worked towards achieving my Level 3 NVQ in Retail Management. It was brilliant for me. Not only did it give me the chance to build my CV, it made me feel like I had something to give.

In 2017, a job become available at an Emmaus shop in Barnet. It looked like an amazing opportunity. I applied, and I was successful, with a full-time job as a Shop Manager and a team of 25 volunteers.

Sam also found a job working for a removals company and we have both left the community. We are now living together in our own home and recently started a family, so I am having a break from work while our baby is young. Our life is comfortable and we couldn’t be happier.