I am a 20 year old student at EPF School of Engineering in Paris. In order to meet the requirements to complete my degree I had to complete a citizen internship in an organisation of my choice. I chose Emmaus and by chance I landed in Leeds where I was a volunteer for a month. Before working at Emmaus Leeds, I used to visit some of their branches in France, as a customer.

After working in all different departments during the first week to understand the purpose of Emmaus Leeds and also to meet companions and staff, I was given two tasks.

The first one was to interview customers through a survey in order to build a profile of our customer base including their expectations, habits, their lifestyle and their impressions about the store and helpfulness of the staff. This task was a challenge for me due to the language barrier. However, the customers were, in general, patient, kind to me and willing to answer the survey.

This questionnaire was also a good opportunity to inform people about this organisation, what they do, what service they provide including the assistance offered to companions, offering them work and accommodation (just above the store). Customers were happy to learn about all those aspects they didn’t know about.

My other task during this volunteering project was to give a hand to Joanne (Projects & Events Leader). Our goal was to install and prepare the new ‘bric-a-brac’ and clothes room. So let’s go for painting, sorting, moving items, and store items in order to make customers feel more welcome in the store.

During this month, I was lucky to participate to a fundraising hike to the top of Snowdon for Emmaus Leeds. What a beautiful challenge and very well done to everyone who took part! It was a beautiful day of hiking and joy between companions.

Sacré bleu, I learned many things during my time at Emmaus! Working there has helped me recognise my own skills, and build my self-esteem. It was a really good experience for me to leave my home, my country, and to meet new people. As well as improving my English skills!

Before getting in Leeds I was thinking that it would be a regular job. But this experience brought me a lot more: I met companions as well as funny, lovely, welcoming staff and great volunteers. This work also helped me figure out that I want to work in an environment that provides help to people in need.

If anyone asked me what Emmaus meant to me, I would answer many smiles and great memories as well as lots of pleasure helping those in need. One regret? I wish I could have stayed longer!

Thank you everyone I met along the way for making my journey in England unforgettable.