After living as a companion at Emmaus Leeds for almost 15 years, Dave has moved on into the next chapter of his life and started his retirement. Dave still returns to Emmaus Leeds twice a week to volunteer.

I am a Yorkshire man. I was born in Leeds in 1956. I am a bit of a loner. I like my own company. I am quite family oriented, and I like to get things done. I’m a hard worker. I have travelled quite extensively but I have lived most of my life in Leeds apart from doing three years in London and five years in the army. I’m an engineer by profession but I have spent most of my life working in the chemical industry.

Before coming to Emmaus I was married with children. Most of my family have moved abroad and I’ve only got my two sisters left in the UK.

“I was street homeless before coming to Emmaus. It’s not a question of existing, it’s a question of survival.”

I am quite a resourceful person and as soon as I had found out the way things worked, I got pointed in the direction of Emmaus by a lady from St Annes Resource Centre.

I spent many years as a companion and it’s been about six weeks since I went into retirement. So far, it’s very different. I am still volunteering because basically, I am bored. But I am quite happy. My new accommodation is in Leeds and it’s very nice and comfortable. Where I am living is for over 55’s only so there are no wild parties and there’s not a lot of noise.

Before retiring I went into the move on house (a two bed house owned by Emmaus Leeds to prepare companions for moving on into independent living). For the first couple of weeks there I was a bit disorientated but after that you soon settle down. The move on house is very nice and I think it’s a great policy.

“I was a companion for nearly 15 years. It’s a long time.”

The advice I would give someone joining Emmaus Leeds now is to get on your feet as soon as you can. I probably left it a little late but then again, I came as an older person. See it as a temporary stop gap to get back on your feet. I will always be grateful to Emmaus. It has been a great help.

In terms of work, because I was there so long, I had a go at just about everything. I used to run the workshop, repairing things and building things. I’ve worked in the shop too. The only thing I haven’t done is cooking in the kitchen! I can cook well for a family but the catering side is totally different.

“It’s been an experience being in Emmaus. I’ve seen things I have never seen before; seeing different aspects of different lives. I never knew what homelessness was before it happened to me.”

I’m still volunteering at Emmaus twice a week for the foreseeable future. I am getting out and about more with my new free time, and more so when the weather picks up. I try to be purposeful in life. It feels different being there as a volunteer but in a good way.

Find out more about volunteering opportunities at Emmaus Leeds.