Five years ago, Shane Butler found himself homeless. After sleeping rough for two years, he is now transforming his life thanks to support from homelessness charity Emmaus Oxford. Ready to get back into work, Shane is now a part-time student, gaining the qualifications he needs to help fulfil his dream of a career in joinery and furniture making.

For three days each week, 27-year-old Shane attends the City of Oxford College, undertaking a BTEC Level 1 & 2 in Cabinet Making.

Emmaus Oxford provides a home and meaningful work for 28 people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion. Those supported at the community live together and help to run our charity’s store on Barns Road in Cowley. We’ve given Shane a home whilst he rebuilds his life.

When I found myself homeless, I ended up sleeping in a tent for two years. I had to learn quickly; I taught myself how to make a fire and keep it going; the cold weather was hard but I learnt to use layers to keep myself as warm as possible.

Being offered a place at Emmaus Oxford was a turning point for me. From being homeless, I suddenly had a home and a chance to transform my life. I’ve always had a real passion for working with wood and a fascination with using traditional tools; it’s my dream to have a career doing just that. The Emmaus team really encouraged me to believe in myself and have the confidence to get going with my training.

It means a lot that people here care about me and often take to time to ask me how my college course is going. It’s seems like a small thing but all this is doing wonders for my mental health. I’m loving my course and learning so many new skills and joinery techniques has really opened my eyes to the sort of work I could do in the future. In September I’m hoping to take the next step and start my Level 3 BTEC qualification.”

Emmaus Oxford’s Community Leader Steve James said:

We’re delighted that Shane is doing so well with his training. Here at Emmaus we always take time to get to know each person to make sure we offer them the support they really need. It’s amazing how often someone who has experienced homelessness can start to turn their life around, once they have the safety of a home for as long as they need it. Shane’s progress is a great example of this; he’s now gaining the skills and confidence he needs to be able re-enter the world of work when he’s ready.”

To find out more about the work of Emmaus Oxford call us on 01865 763698.