I’m from Leicestershire and I moved away for a bit but came back to be closer to my girlfriend. When I then ran into problems with my housing benefit, I ended up without a place to live.

I slept on the streets when I was 19 and it was really bad. When I thought it might happen again, I did everything I could to find somewhere else to stay. As luck would have it, I already knew about Emmaus because I used to volunteer at Emmaus Bristol, helping to sort out donated items in their charity shop. I found out that the community in Hinckley was my nearest and gave them a ring to see if they could help. I went in for an interview with the support staff and moved in soon after.

I found living in the Emmaus accommodation challenging at first, especially during the covid lockdowns because I’m not the sort of person who likes to stay inside. Over time, I got to know the other people staying there and got used to living in the community.

The support staff were really helpful. They were always there to listen, and they pointed me in the right direction if they couldn’t help me themselves. I was suffering with mental health problems following a bereavement and they helped me find specialist support groups. They also made sure I took my medication on time, which was something I sometimes struggled with.

I enjoyed my time at Emmaus, especially being able to work every day. It felt good to feel like I was able to put something back into the community. The routine was really helpful because I like to be out and about, doing something with my days. I mainly worked on the vans, collecting and delivering furniture to customers. I enjoyed it because I got a chance to explore the county and visit places I’d never been to before. I also liked having the chance to chat to customers and meet new people.

I felt really good knowing I could stay as long as I needed to, but after a while I was ready to move on. I moved in with my girlfriend and started work, doing agency jobs in warehousing and manufacturing.

We recently got engaged – which is exciting – so right now I’m also busy planning our wedding. Some of the staff and companions from Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland are invited; it’ll be great to see them all there.

It feels good to be independent again. I’m about to take my driving test and we just bought our own place. We’re hoping to move into it soon.

If I hadn’t reached out to Emmaus, I would probably have ended up sofa surfing or living on the streets again, so I’m really grateful they gave me a roof over my head, the chance to work and the support I needed.