Sam is an Emmaus Leeds companion who is happy to share their story but would like to remain anonymous. We have given them an alias to protect their identity.
1. What led you to experience homelessness?
I was living in Wolverhampton. I had it all; a house, a girlfriend, and a job. Then my girlfriend moved back home and me and my friend began looking at work and housing in Leeds as it was cheaper. Me and my friend lived in a shared house and I found work. It was very physical, but I enjoyed it. My friend could not find work and ran up debts to a drug dealer. These people were not very nice, and it fell to me to pay the debts. When I could not, they took my passport and documents and attacked me. I ended up in hospital and was very scared. I was too scared to go back to my accommodation. I stayed on the streets. I would sleep during the day and stay awake on the evening.
2.How did you first hear about Emmaus?
I was moved into hotel accommodation, as part of the council’s efforts to make sure no one was one the streets during the pandemic. The lady that worked there told me about Emmaus and I then remember them saying that a taxi was outside, and I was going to Emmaus.
3.How long have you been a companion at Emmaus?
Around 9 months.
4.What was it like when you first came to Emmaus Leeds?
When I first arrived, I had to self-isolate. I was in my room, but my food was bought to me and I had tea and coffee to drink. I liked it and I found there were easy to follow rules.
5.What have you learnt about yourself since coming to Emmaus Leeds?
I have learnt to relax, as whilst living on the streets, I always had my guard up. My behaviour has changed too. Before I used to react instantly but now, I am more relaxed. I feel hungry now as I am used to a routine and know when I will have my meals, whereas before I used to just feel hunger pains.
6.What aspect of work do you enjoy most at Emmaus Leeds?
I enjoy waking up and having a routine. I wake up with a smile on my face, ready for the day ahead. I enjoy all aspects of the work as I like to keep busy and be physically tired.
7.What aspect of training / development have you enjoyed most as Emmaus Leeds?
I have been able to develop my sports skills and would like to teach self-defence too others.
8.Describe Leeds Emmaus in 3 words
Warm, very good and safe.
9.What advice would you give any new companions arriving at Emmaus Leeds?
I would say be yourself, and be honest, if you lie about things you will not be able to get the best help.
10. Do you have any hopes or goals for the future?
I would like to be able to go home and see my mum.