I’m originally from Romford in Essex and I joined Emmaus Leeds in May 2015. I was homeless in Guildford, having previously been on remand in prison for eight months and losing my home whilst I was in there. When I came out I literally had the clothes that I had gone to court in and nothing else.

Luckily my solicitor knew of a woman who worked with the homeless in the area and she put me on to the local host team. They were well aware of Emmaus and phoned a few communities up for me. Emmaus Leeds had a space, I had a phone interview and then I spent about a week thinking about it.

“I liked the idea of Emmaus”

It was a really hard choice to make because I didn’t know anything about Emmaus, although I did a bit of research in the local library. I liked the idea of Emmaus, so it was either continue in the poor conditions down south or head to somewhere new, with my own room, shower en-suite, work and three hot meals each day. I came north and have not regretted it at all.

Moving in to Emmaus Leeds was a struggle at first as I was very depressed at the time. I was very ill and struggled to get out of bed initially. Meeting new people was no problem and I was glad that I had somewhere to rest my head at night. Working with other people and getting on with them all the time is always the issue in life as you’re not going to like everyone. I soon settled in though.

Whilst at Emmaus I mainly worked out on the vans and in the Emmaus Leeds charity shops. I did the PAT testing course, the fire marshals course, first aid and obviously training using the vans and manual handling. There are many more opportunities that are provided, some with funding from Emmaus UK, but unfortunately I didn’t take advantage of them.

“I’ve now got my own my place”

The thing I’ve gained most from Emmaus is a sense of wellbeing. It’s an optimism that there are better things ahead and I wanted to partake in that. I’ve now got my own my place but before I wasn’t interested in that at all. Literally, for about two years I wasn’t interested in moving out, I was just quite happy doing what I was doing.

Eventually, with the support from staff and their encouragement, I took action to deal with my depression. Being at Emmaus Leeds has given me an optimism, a feeling of wellbeing, stability and the time to settle.

I’ve also had problems with my lower back. Despite feeling much better with my wellbeing, it was always my back that put me on hold for moving out. I thought if I get a job and my back goes, I’d be doomed and back homeless again. Gradually, I decided I couldn’t continue like that, and when I went to the doctors they came up with ideas on how to deal with it, through yoga and a tens machine. This helped fantastically and strengthened the core muscles, giving me better sleep and an even better wellbeing.

Once I got my back pain under control I then looked more at the move-on process. I love Yorkshire and like Leeds, so I started on the bidding process for a flat in the city. I got help from the support staff at Emmaus and a support worker at my local health centre, and eventually was offered a property. Fortunately, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink so I managed to save an awful lot of money that put me in a good position.

“It made life so much easier”

It was a hard choice due to the state of the property, but I thought I may not get offered another one. It’s in a quiet place and I’ve got plenty of elbow grease, so I decided to go for it. I’ve filled lots of holes in the walls, painted everywhere and replaced the carpets. I feel fortunate that I was accepted and now have my own place.

Quite amazingly, once I moved out, I was given lots more support from Emmaus. There were various items that I was given such as a bed, furniture, crockery and that sort of thing. It made life so much easier when I moved in.

My plans for the future are to keep in touch with my friends at Emmaus Leeds and I soon plan to start a driving delivery job. I’ve already spoken to a couple of firms, lined up some interviews and it seems they’re desperate for drivers with my skills.

Thank you so very much to all the people who support Emmaus. It really helps the companions and gives people the ability to get their lives back in order. We’re really appreciative of all the donations, the customers, the regulars and the kindness of people. You do meet some wonderful people at Emmaus and as companions, we’re extremely grateful that their support helps so much.