I joined Emmaus Salford on 20 October 2014 as one of the first companions. There was me and four others who had already lived in an Emmaus community so we moved to Emmaus Salford with the aim of helping to get it up and running, ready to welcome new companions.

I’ll be honest; when I first arrived at Emmaus Salford it was a mess. It was like a derelict building as it had been empty for some time. It was coming up to winter so there were leaves in the building and it all needed a good tidy. We just knuckled down, cleaned it all up and started to make it the community home it is today.

Creating a community

I initially worked in the Emmaus Salford shops, sorting donations and cooking the meals in the community kitchen. It was rewarding cooking from scratch and giving everyone a full plate of food. I must have a thing for food and making sure that everyone is fed well. I never had a complaint from my fellow companions or they didn’t complain to my face!

In October 2017 we launched Lucie’s Pantry, a social supermarket that helps people on low incomes and who are really struggling. Once it was set up I worked three days a week managing Lucie’s Pantry and dealing directly with the members and suppliers.

The pantry idea came about through chats with the local housing providers and the fact that people were increasingly struggling to pay their bills and buy food to eat. Lucie’s Pantry is a membership scheme where people sign-up, come each week and pay £2.50 to receive upto £15 worth of shopping. Within a few months of opening the membership was at capacity and we had a long waiting list of people wanting to join.

I can’t put it into words what it means to be working within Lucie’s Pantry. It’s rewarding but it’s more than that. When people come in, it’s the chats I have with the members. Some people live on their own and don’t see anyone day to day. I can chat to someone and make their day as they make my day. We also have Citizens Advice Bureau here so I’m like the link between people needing support and organisations who can help. I’m so proud of the whole concept of Lucie’s Pantry.

Gaining employment

This opportunity at Lucie’s Pantry has led to me becoming a full-time staff member and getting my own flat. I moved out of Emmaus Salford in May 2018. After being in an Emmaus community for eight years it was daunting at first. I love having my own flat though and it’s good that it’s not too far away from the Emmaus Salford community. My daughter has now moved to Salford so I’ve got my family around me too.

Being part of the Emmaus Salford community is great. When I lived here as a companion, everyone used to knock on my door as I was like ‘Mama Pat’. Whether it was a chat or sewing a button on some trousers; my door was always open. It’s all been rewarding more than anything.

Since I joined Emmaus I’ve been the happiest I’ve been for a long time, especially here at Emmaus Salford. A lot of it is down to the Community Director for believing in me. He gave me the opportunity to run Lucie’s Pantry and now I’m a staff member here full-time.