Since coming to Emmaus Oxford, everything has started to fall into place and I’m so excited. I’m now working and saving to leave, and should be in my own home by the end of this year.

I lived in Kent all my life and raised my five children there. My job was working with special needs children, but it was part-time plus some volunteering. I did this for twelve years, as my kids grew up and started to leave home to lead their own lives. Eventually though the debts piled up and I couldn’t afford to pay my rent.

Nobody told me I could get a rent top up because I was working part-time; my rent arrears kept building up. When it got to £1,000, they evicted me. They just kicked me out.

I ended up staying on my friend’s sofa. I was very lucky not to be rough sleeping. I don’t like to think about what could have happened. The experience of being homeless would have a huge impact on anyone, but I think being a woman out there alone is a scarier prospect. I was so fortunate not to end up vulnerable on the streets.

I used to visit a local day centre who would provide meals and give advice. After about six months, someone there recommended applying to Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire. I had a phone interview and they said, ‘can you travel here tomorrow?’ I moved in the next day. I was there for eight months and then moved to Emmaus Village Carlton in Bedfordshire, where I stayed for three years before finally moving to Emmaus Oxford.

Emmaus is brilliant and feels like one big family.

Everybody’s been in the same situation, but we all have different stories. I have always felt welcomed and accepted, and I’m there to help anybody and everybody is there to help me. It’s really good.

Emmaus has helped me do so many things and opened up so many doors for me. I’ve been supported to get many qualifications over the years. I’m qualified to use a forklift truck and achieved NVQ Level 2 in Warehousing and Storage, Level 3 Food Hygiene and Level 3 First Aid.

The support team here at Emmaus Oxford is amazing. They know I’m ready and so they push me – in a good way – to try new things. I’m proud that I now have a diploma in Special Needs Education and completed a course on Children and Young People’s Mental Health. I have also done my Level 1 and 2 in Makaton, which is sign language for children with special needs. All my training has been paid for by the Emmaus UK Companion Training Fund.

I’ve helped out in many different roles during my time with Emmaus; I’ve worked in shops, cooked in kitchens, served café customers and operated a forklift, but my favourite thing is when I work on the vans. I really enjoy getting hands-on, collecting and delivering furniture for customers. Every week I also like to help out by cooking hot meals for the Emmaus Oxford solidarity project; it’s great that once a week, local homeless people can drop in for food, supplies and advice.

When I felt ready, I began planning for the future and was so excited to start a part-time job working 20 hours per week taking special needs children to and from school. I’ve now been doing this job for more than eight months and it’s helping me save for when I leave Emmaus.

In March 2021, I put my housing application in but it was held up due to the pandemic. I’ve been told it will now be fast-tracked and worked out that it should be the end of 2021 or the start of next year that I’ll be in my own new home and I’m so excited!

I’m on a new adventure now and the future’s exciting, thanks to Emmaus.