My name is Rosemary, and I’ve been at Emmaus Hertfordshire since May 2017 when I nearly became homeless after losing my job.
Before coming to Emmaus, I was living and working in Luton at another homelessness charity that sold flat-pack and restored furniture. I had a few different roles there, mainly as a receptionist or helping in the restoration and upholstery workshop. My role was only temporary, and I struggled to find employment when my contract came to an end.
When I lost my job, I began volunteering at the same charity while I looked for paid work, but I began to fall behind with rent payments. I was about to be evicted from my home and thought I would be forced to live in a hostel until I found another job and a home, when the charity I worked for suggested Emmaus as somewhere to gain a place to live and work. I visited and loved it – and luckily I was able to move in straight away.
It’s interesting the way it works here; I have somewhere to live, get to work for the organisation and learn all different kinds of new skills. Some days I work in the charity shops in Hemel Hempstead or Tring, and I also help to upcycle furniture in the workshop.
After a few months at Emmaus, I suggested upholstery as a way to restore donated chairs because it is something that I had experience in. I now do this every Tuesday with the other companions and volunteers, and we recently opened a new upholstery room. I have been in the shops when some of my upholstered chairs have been sold – one set of four sold for £60, and I was really pleased with that.
It’s also interesting living in the community with the other companions. You get a mixture of people, and we all eat and work together. We even go on outings as a group like bowling or to the cinema. Not long ago we went go-karting – which was a painful experience. It’s fun at the time, but crashing into a wall, which I did about two or three times, really hurts. I think I can cross that off my bucket list now.
Looking forward, I hope to reconnect with my 27 year-old daughter in Stevenage, and my 29 year-old son in Norwich. I haven’t visited them since coming to Emmaus, but we talk all the time and I’m hoping to see them both during my holidays in the summer.
I feel much more settled since coming to Emmaus. It’s a good place to live, and a good place to work. It’s helped me get back into the routine of work, and do something with my life. It’s a place for relaunching and I feel as though I’m finding myself again.