My name is Peter, I’m 51 years old, I was born and have always lived in Leeds. The first time I went to live in Emmaus Leeds was in 2013. I was only there for three months before having to leave as I had started taking legal highs with some other residents. It wasn’t long before we were found out and we were all asked to leave. Emmaus has a strict no drugs policy.

18 months later I reapplied to Emmaus, this time I was there for three years. The beginning was a struggle because I was still not in the right head-space. I wasn’t used to having a routine and having things to do. I was losing my temper frequently and being angry at everyone. There was a turning point when I built up a relationship with my support worker and I started to trust and be able to talk. They were straight talking and told me how it was. They gave me the space to talk about what was going on, got used to my moods and found a way to work things out. The most important thing to me was that I no longer felt alone.

“I was so lonely”

Drugs led me to becoming homeless when I was 11 years old. It developed from cannabis and lead on to using heroin and crack which brought me down to rock bottom. My entire life was chaos, going from prison to supported housing, addiction services and mental health services. One day I woke up and all my mates were dead or lost their legs or were in prison. I had a counsellor through Barca Leeds who helped me start my journey to recovery. After recovering from my lifelong addictions and getting to a place where I had a job and my own flat, I was still struggling with feelings of guilt and loneliness. Between my mother dying and coming to Emmaus I was so lonely.

I lived alone, I had no social network, I was cut off from all my family and I was working too hard. I worked every hour I could to help fight the loneliness I was feeling. Eventually I ended up having a breakdown which resulted in a stay at the Becklin Centre. Someone I knew from the streets had been to Emmaus before and that’s how I knew about what they did. I couldn’t go back to the life I was living, so the Becklin Centre helped me make a referral to Emmaus Leeds. Although my first stay didn’t work out, I knew this was what I wanted and I worked with addiction services in Leeds until I was ready to reapply.

“I had people around”

Emmaus helped me sort my anger out. I was full of rage, more with myself but was giving it to other people. At the time I couldn’t function, I was like a little baby, I didn’t know how to live out there. I know I would probably be dead right now if I hadn’t gotten the support from Emmaus and other services. Loneliness is the killer.

At Emmaus I had people around me and I made a couple of good friends. Every friend I have is ex-Emmaus or still living in the community. I see them all regularly and we keep in touch online… I didn’t know how to even turn a computer on until a couple of years ago!

At Emmaus Leeds I learned PAT testing, I was a collection and delivery driver, which helped me get my current job, and probably what I am most proud of – I learnt to cook! I could put a pizza in the oven – now I can cook a full roast dinner, although I still love my pizza!

I left Emmaus in December 2017 after using the move-on process. This allowed me to live in the community for 12 weeks while I was working in full time employment, it acted as a buffer, so I could save some money and start off in a financially stable position. I currently work for an internet shopping company as a delivery driver. I enjoy my job, it’s easy, I like driving and its good money.

“I’m happy”

I live independently of Emmaus Leeds now. At first it was hard for me to adjust, struggling with change, learning to be in a relationship again and learning to compromise. Something I never thought would happen is that through learning to use the computer and internet while I was at Emmaus, I not only met my partner, but I am now in touch with all my family.

Since I left Emmaus in December we have moved into our own house, done up the house and garden and now I’m saving to go travelling. I’m planning to visit Thailand next year, it’s been something I’ve talked about for years but now I can make it happen.

Emmaus taught me to control anger, socialise properly, it took away my loneliness and gave me security. I honestly can say that drugs are not a problem for me, I’m not scared of them and I have no interest in them. I’m happy.

No matter how low you get, whatever you are suffering with, if you are ready to make a positive change in your life, Emmaus will have a door open and will guide you in the right direction. If you’re lonely, you won’t be on your own. I don’t know of any other organisation that comes close to doing that.