I was homeless for 18 years, living from day to day and not knowing when or if it would ever end. It was a very scary experience. I slept wherever I could, in so many different places. Sometimes it was in a park, or I’d find a secluded bench for the night. I often found a spot down by a riverside, away from passers-by.

Keeping myself safe was a big concern. I even sometimes slept under a bush – hidden away so no-one would spot me. I couldn’t keep myself completely safe though; I was attacked on four separate occasions – each time it was a terrifying experience.

I felt completely alone, with no-one to help me through any of it; I got no support. That’s all changed now I’ve found Emmaus. I’ve lived in a series of Emmaus communities across the UK. At the moment I’m part of Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland and I’ve been here for over three years. It’s like a new family. Everyone supports each other and I have a role that I really enjoy – working in our Boutique charity shop in Hinckley.

Living together with other companions is definitely all part of the Emmaus experience.

There are 16 of us living at ‘Elm Lea’, our residential building. We share the everyday running of the property and we all socialise together; we try to be there to support each other, just like in a family. The Emmaus staff also give us support and help each of us through our individual problems.

Having been helped by Emmaus for so long, I’m now trying to give something back. I regularly do sponsored walks to raise money for the charity and to help spread the word about how important its work is. There’s no two ways about it – Emmaus saved my life, and I’m so very grateful.