Wishing our companion Shania all the very best as she moves on from Emmaus Hertfordshire

It’s with a mixture of sadness and happiness that we say goodbye to our companion Shania this week as she moves onto independent living.

Shania was sofa surfing and at risk of street homelessness, but thanks to the intervention of her boyfriend who got in touch with Emmaus, she was referred to our St Albans community just over a year ago.

As well as being given a home and work opportunities in our social enterprise, Shania received both individual and career support, successfully securing a job as a disability support worker five months ago.

She is now relocating to Hampshire where her boyfriend is based and setting up home together. She was able to transfer her job from Hertfordshire to Hampshire as the company she works for has branches in both counties.

Commenting on the move, Shania said: “It’s a bit nerve-racking but exciting at the same time. I’m moving to where my boyfriend is, about two hours away in Hampshire. We’ve got a flat together.

“I’m planning on settling down in Hampshire and eventually I want to work as a support worker with children. That’s why I’m doing my Level 2 NVQ in health and safety to work towards that goal.

“I’ll miss everyone here. The support has been brilliant and the companions have been really friendly and welcoming. People are always there for you if you need them. I’ll definitely stay in touch with everyone.”

Helping others in solidarity

One of Shania’s stand-out memories at Emmaus was taking part in Cancer Research UK’s 5k Race for Life in Verulamium Park, St Albans last July.

Shania did this as part of our ‘month of solidarity’. Solidarity is one of our core values at Emmaus, and a way for us to make a difference to the lives of others by supporting individuals, charities and initiatives.

Shania said at the time: “I love volunteering and raising money for charity. I lost my uncle Ian to cancer last year and I was very close to him, so I want to run it in his memory.

“I’m not a runner at all, I’ve just started doing the couch to 5k app on my phone and it gets you running and walking, so in nine weeks I’ll hopefully be able to run 5k.”

Her determination and training paid off and Shania successfully completed the race, raising well over £125 for Cancer Research.

Shania also recently spoke out during our Uprising of Kindness month, marking 70 years since Emmaus founder Abbe Pierre called for the public to help the many homeless people in Paris.

Pivotal act of kindness

Recalling a pivotal act of kindness that made a huge difference to her own life she said: “When I was homeless and sofa surfing my boyfriend searched into organisations that could help and got in touch with Emmaus on my behalf. If it wasn’t for his kindness, I wouldn’t have turned my life around as I have here at Emmaus.

“I experienced kindness and support while living here, from different companions and support workers who have helped support me in finding a job and moving on to independent living. A big thank you to everyone who’s helped me.”

Asked what advice she would give to other people experiencing homelessness or sofa surfing, Shania said: “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel and there’s always help out there – you just need to look for it.”

Our Chief Executive Duncan Lewis said: “It’s always the most rewarding aspect of our work here at Emmaus Hertfordshire to see our companions move on to pastures new after receiving the support they need.

“We wish Shania all the very best for the future and wish her well with her new home and job. She was a very popular member of our community and will be missed very much. We’re looking forward to hearing how it all goes.”