I’ve been with Emmaus for around 10 years, first as a companion and now here working at Emmaus Hertfordshire. I was in such a bad place before, I really don’t think I would be sitting here now without them.

In 2010 I separated from my wife and was left with nothing and tried the council for a place to stay but had no luck. I knew nothing then. If I knew what I know now about Emmaus it would’ve been a completely different story.

I ended up on the street for three months and I felt very low. I tried to do everything to hurt myself and I was trying to drink myself into tomorrow to forget about today. Then when tomorrow arrived all I had was a headache and I’d be shaking like a leaf. Eventually, I ended up in detox and rehab. When you’re on the street people just look down on you. They think, oh you’re there because you’ve taken drugs, or you’ve got a drinking problem or you’re aggressive. People don’t realise that there are a lot of other reasons why you end up there. They see you and they’ve decided that they know you and your story just from one look.

After a while, I was assigned a Community Psychiatric Nurse, who got me into a night shelter in Brighton. That was an experience and a half, with 20 odd people sleeping on the floor and kicking off all the time. I was there a couple of months in and out. Then they found me a hostel in London, so I moved up there. Staying there just didn’t agree with me, and some very dodgy things were going on. After some disagreements, I was told to leave. But the day before, one of the guys there said, have you tried Emmaus? I had never heard of Emmaus ever, but I went to Emmaus SLC for an interview, and I moved in that week!

It was like a breath of fresh air. I finally had something to do during the day and a secure, safe place to live. It allowed me to grow very quickly into a better person.

I was with Emmaus SLC for two years as a companion. Towards the end, it was my time to go but I think I was too afraid of commitment, and I wasn’t sure I could survive on my own. Now that I look back on it, that process turned me into a very horrible person. I was an idiot; they were trying to be there for me, and I wasn’t helping myself, started acting up. They knew I had a place to stay with my girlfriend who volunteered there, and they asked me to leave because of my behaviour. Two months later the team gave me a call and asked me how I was doing. With that bit of distance and that time out, I realised how stupid I’d been. They asked me if I’d think about coming back and volunteering, I agreed because I wanted to give back and despite everything, I really liked the people there.

I started to work as a support worker at Emmaus SLC and it was good, I enjoyed being back. When my contract came to an end, I interviewed for a Retail Manager position at Emmaus Hertfordshire. It was a 20-minute drive from my house, I went for the interview, and here I am now four years later! The team is so great here, I love it.

Emmaus is the golden ticket, where you can work and live. In the hostels I was in if you got a job, you were literally out that day, expected to find somewhere and pay rent with 0 savings. It gives people a chance. It gives you an opportunity and it’s done so differently.

I did a tour for our recent open day event at Emmaus Hertfordshire, and I got goosebumps when I was talking about the locks on the bedroom doors. It’s the first time you’ve got a room with a door, and you feel safe and secure. Emmaus gives you that feeling, they don’t know anything about you, but they just trust you.

Emmaus is about second chances. They gave me a second chance and it’s all worked out. Sometimes I wake up – not every day or every month – but I look down at my hands and realise they’re not shaking anymore. I used to struggle so badly with that. I’m so grateful, thanks to Emmaus I know I’ll never be in that position again.