Emmaus provides me with what I need. I have a roof over my head, I’ve got food in my belly, I’ve got a bit of spending money and a stable life. If I wasn’t here, I’d be living on the streets.
It all started when I split up with my partner. Everything was in her name, so I left with nowhere to go. I sofa surfed with friends and family for a few months, but I didn’t want to be a burden so decided to start living on the streets.
I did that for about six weeks. It’s so tough being homeless; I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I don’t drink; my only vice is smoking. I know some people also battle various addictions whilst they’re on the streets, and that’s so tough for them.
Eventually I met some Travellers and ended up living and working with them for five years, before leaving to go back on the streets again. It was then that an outreach worker told me about Emmaus. I’d never heard of it before, so I went to the library and did some research, and that’s when I applied for a place at Emmaus Gloucestershire.
I lived at Emmaus Gloucestershire for four years and then I moved here to Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland two years ago.
I love it at Emmaus. I fit in well and it’s a pleasure to come to work. There’s a good atmosphere among the companions and the staff. The support staff are great; if there’s a problem I can just knock on the door and I’ll be helped out straight away.
When you wake up every morning and enjoy what you’re doing, then you carry on doing it. Every day, I do all I can to help out. At the moment, I’m pretty much running the Emporium charity shop and, yes it can be a bit stressful, but the days fly by and I’m proud that it’s all working well. There’s money in the till, there are deliveries booked in and it is a good feeling.
In the past I went through a really bad bout of depression. I piled on the weight because I was eating and eating, to try and cope with it. Since then, my mental health has improved so much. Now I try and see the good in everything, every day, and I try not to have a bad word to say about anybody. If one of the others is feeling depressed, they often come to me and I’ll try and cheer them up.
A big part of what makes Emmaus different is that it feels like a family. I do have a real family whom I speak to every week, but this community feels like part of my extended family now. I’ve got no plans to move on at the moment. Maybe I will in future, but right now I’m happy here.
When I first started at Emmaus, it felt like I hadn’t done much with my life. Now I think that when I leave here, at least I have made a difference, which is a very good feeling. Every day I’m helping to raise money for the charity that is helping me, but also supporting lots of other people too. I get a sense of fulfilment from it all, and hope I’m remembered for all the good things that I’ve done.