I joined Emmaus at the end of 2023, just before Christmas. I was made homeless to escape a really bad relationship and was sleeping on the streets for about six weeks. An outreach team told me about Emmaus and that it would be a chance to rebuild my life, get off the streets and do better for myself.

There are a lot of organisations out there that provide a meal or clothes, but if there’s no accommodation, you’re sleeping outside like I was – just surviving. That’s when the fear comes because you don’t know what’s going to happen during the night, or if the police will ask you to move on. I slept outside a church, and I was lucky because the spot had security cameras and I made friends with the people who ran the facility.

Living at an Emmaus community is different for me because I had always lived on my own. I find it difficult to chat to other people and make new friends. It took me a bit of time to readjust, feel safe and have people I could trust. It took me a few weeks to settle in but having my own room, people to talk to and support staff, has made a massive difference. Having a place inside, with four walls and a room made me feel safe again.

An opportunity to develop

Emmaus has given me a chance to take time, fix situations that happened to me during my life and look to the future. Through the week, I work in the Emmaus shops in Hull – the warehouse, Superstore, Whitefriargate Emporium and Newlands shop. I really like working on the tillsand serving customers; it has given me skills that I never had before. This has built my confidence and made a massive difference.

My hopes for the future are to feel more relaxed in myself, get more confidence, feel safe and make friends. I used to be a cleaner back in the day and so I’m keen to do some training courses to build my skills. Emmaus is giving me a safe place to live, food, support with health and wellbeing and an opportunity to develop. Anytime I feel overwhelmed by my feelings or I don’t know how to handle a situation, I know it’s an open door and I can speak to a support worker.

Make someone’s day

When I was living on the streets, I saw a lot of bad things; the misuse of alcohol and drugs, behaviour and crime, which was quite sad to see really. Homelessness can be a horrible vicious circle but there is help and support out there.

My favourite part of Emmaus, and I have huge respect for them, is the Outreach team who go out there, talk to people who are homeless, give them food, information and support. Emmaus helps a lot of people and gives them the guidance they need.

If you find someone who is homeless, put them in contact with Emmaus to see if they can offer them help. When I was on the streets, sometimes it feels like everybody just walks past you and nobody cares. They treat you like an outcast, but they don’t know how you became homeless – everybody has got a story that’s different. Having a chat with people who are homeless can really make someone’s day.

A new purpose in life

My message to supporters of Emmaus is thank you – it’s a huge contribution they make to people who need help. Their support gives us a purpose to get out of bed and go and meet all these new people, interact in the shops, sell items and help others.

This place gives you security, shelter, food, a purpose, people to interact with and the staff are willing to help, listen and take their time with you. When you are ready to leave, the support is there to help you find a job and accommodation. They are giving me the chance to build my confidence and have a support network, which is massive.

*Name changed to protect the person’s privacy.