Before I joined Emmaus I was unemployed and homeless. I ended up homeless after my marriage ended with my wife of 20 years. I had to move into my own place and had my son living with me. I got bits of jobs here and there but I started really struggling with money and everything, getting behind on my bills and eventually I ended up getting evicted out of my flat.

It was hard work struggling with money. I was going to the Salvation Army for food parcels and often stopped eating just so I could make sure I could feed my son. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping – I was basically a shell of what I am now. I didn’t want to know anyone and was all against relationships because of my marriage breakdown. Basically, if it wasn’t for my kids I wouldn’t be here.

A renewed sense of purpose

I moved into Emmaus Preston in 2016 and was here just short of a year. When I moved in here it gave me everything back. My self-confidence improved, working in the shops helped and it gave me what I needed – a purpose and focus each day.

I found out about this place by chance really. The day I got evicted, the bailiff had given me a letter I needed to take to the town hall. As I was on my way down there, for some reason I cut down this way and saw the sign in the Emmaus Preston garden. I just thought I’d give them a knock as I had nowhere else to stay. I did all the paperwork, completed the induction and ended up moving in on the Monday.

It was a bit nerve-racking at first, moving in and joining a big community of people, because my head was all over the place at the time. I’d been evicted, I’d lost my uncle that year and my grandad had passed away on my birthday, so my head was well and truly gone. I soon settled though and it was good.

Glad to be working

I started working down at the Megastore for the first month or so and then moved to the Deepdale Warehouse, which I ended up running. It was case of turning up in the morning, open up, get the till ready, make sure all the paperwork is sorted for the drivers and then the general running of the shop. This involved cleaning, loading items onto the vans, serving customers, operating the till and booking deliveries and collections.

I enjoyed all of my time working in the Emmaus Preston shops and I was just glad to be working as I’ve worked for most of my life. Only the odd time I’ve been out of work for a couple of months, so glad to be somewhere where I could get back into work again.

Building relationships and skills

Before I got evicted I had my son living with me but he had to go back to his mum. Once I settled in here I was allowed to let him stay with me on certain days. Instead of having a single bed I had a divan with a pull-out bed. He loved it and was practically part of the community as well.

I mixed in with everyone well at Emmaus Preston and made some good friends. We’d all sit in the front room together watching television at night. If my son was here we’d play pool and if it was nice we’d be on the front playing football or whatever. I got on well with everyone.

Whilst at Emmaus I did the money management course, first aid, warehouse and distribution course. I was bad with money management – if I had money I thought I may as well spend it on whatever. Bills were the last thing on my mind, which is the wrong way around, but I’ve learnt my lesson on that one.

It was good to be somewhere where you had nothing to worry about, no bills or pressure, which was my major concern. Being here gave me chance to work things out and put things into perspective, ready for when I moved out. I’m much more organised now.

Progress and future plans

I moved out of Emmaus Preston in 2017 as I’d met a girl and we started a relationship together. She had her own place and asked me to move in. When I moved out I obviously had no job to go to so I still carried on volunteering full-time at Emmaus Preston until I found a paid job. Within a couple of months or so I secured my job at a large retailer, unloading deliveries and replenishing stock. I’m really enjoying it and took to it straight away as I’ve always worked in retail.

My plans for the future are to keep developing and work my way up in the company. I’ve already done my fork-lift truck refresher course and have some other qualifications under my belt. I’m getting ready to start taking driving lessons soon so hopefully I’ll get my driving license too.

A final thank you

Without this place there’d be a lot more people out on the streets. I’m grateful for what Emmaus has done for me – it helped me a lot and I’ve met a lot of good friends who I’m still in touch with now. I still bob in here and have a brew with everyone because I’ve made some really good friends.

From my point of view I would like to thank all the people who support Emmaus Preston. Without the supporters, this place would not be able to run. Everything that is donated is sold on and all the money goes to keep this place open, keep a roof over everyone’s head and give them that vital support. Thank you!