When I left school, I trained to become a qualified baker. I got a job, met someone and got engaged. Things were going pretty smoothly at first, but then my life became just one heartbreak after another.


My engagement came to an end, which hit me hard. In subsequent years I found myself in a number of relationships, none of which ended well, with one involving me experiencing domestic abuse.

Becoming homeless

When my most recent relationship ended, I had to leave our home together and needed a place to live. A local shop owner offered me a flat for free if I cleaned their premises at night. I’d go to work during the day, and then get home and clean the shop. That arrangement didn’t last long though. The shop owner kicked me out when I made friends with someone he disapproved of.

I stayed with a mate for a while but then he asked me to move out, with hardly any notice. I had 24 hours to find somewhere else to live. I packed everything into my car, which had no windows and a broken engine, having been vandalised.

I had nowhere to go, so for the next two months I slept in my car. This was in early December; it was so wet and freezing. I covered up the broken windows as best I could with pizza boxes, but all my clothes got soaked and ended up mouldy. The cold and damp made me ill and I was constantly feeling sick, coughing all the time.

For a while I managed to keep my job. I’d leave at 5am and walk four miles to work in the morning, and then four miles back, every day. I got paid every fortnight. On pay day I’d go to a local hotel, tell them my situation and they’d kindly let me have a half price room. I’d spend all my money on a room for a week, and then I’d move into the car again. On weekends it was hard because I didn’t have anywhere to go. I used to read books to help pass the time. If someone came past, I’d try to duck down so I couldn’t be seen. People would bang on the car if they spotted me.

Finding Emmaus

When my work found out I was homeless, they started treating me differently. Two months later, I lost my job. That night I went to the hotel bar to keep warm and I mentioned to the staff that I’d lost my job. They kindly told some local street pastors about my situation, who visited me that evening. They told me about Emmaus and supported me to apply to Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland.

I’ve been here six years now. My confidence when I first arrived was shot to pieces. I wouldn’t really speak or look anyone in the eye. Gradually though, it improved. I started helping on the Emmaus van, collecting and delivering furniture; I got used to chatting with customers.

Then a close friend of mine passed away and my mental health took a massive nosedive. I was angry all the time, I didn’t want to speak to anyone and took no pleasure in anything. One day my Emmaus support worker pulled me to one side and we talked; she arranged for me to start counselling. I was very unsure at first but I found it so helpful. My sessions have now finished, and I use the tools I was taught every day.

New skills

Whilst I’ve been here I’ve learnt many new skills. I’m a qualified First Aider and since the counselling, my confidence has improved so much that I can even work the shop till. I’m actually the only person here that can drive the van, answer the phone, sort donated clothes and also work the till. That feels good.

I enjoy living in the community home. I’m a good cook, so everyone likes it when it’s my turn to cook for the house. I also like the fact I have my own room; when you live and work with the same people, you do need your own space. My main hobby is movie watching – I collect DVDs and really enjoy picking a film to watch on an evening. I’m a big fan of the old black and white musicals – I used to watch them with my Grandad.

When I look back on the last few years of my life, I think I’m lucky. I couldn’t have found another job because I didn’t have an address, and I didn’t have an address because I didn’t have enough money to rent a place. If those street pastors hadn’t found me that day and helped me get into Emmaus, I don’t think I would be alive today. Instead, I’m doing well.