I was born in Eastbourne, brought up on the South Coast, but I’ve lived absolutely everywhere, from Brighton to Glasgow and back.

Whilst living and working in Lewes, I ended up getting ill, couldn’t work and lost my job. I then couldn’t find a new job quick enough so didn’t have the money to pay my rent. From there I became homeless but remembered Emmaus from years ago. I filled out the online referral form and soon heard from a support worker at Emmaus Salford.

I moved up to Emmaus Salford in February 2020. My head was in a bit of a dodgy place when I first moved in. I was suffering from 12 suicidal ideations a day and anything could have happened. If I wasn’t accepted here, who knows what could have happened. The support I was given from the day I moved in was a big help. If I needed a distraction, there was always a staff member I could go and talk to.

I started off for a few days in the shop and then it got noted by the staff how bored I looked. I had spent most of my life working on building sites and doing up buildings. Once the staff knew that, I literally started rebuilding Emmaus. I built an outside BBQ, raised planters, tiled nearly every shower, redecorated a bathroom, re-did half the wet room and painted most rooms. I also refitted and redecorated Lucie’s Pantry and this helped it achieve a higher hygiene rating than ever before.

Training and development

I had to go and do a PASMA course so I could work at height and use the scaffolding tower. Doing the course was a good thing though because it’s a card that lasts for five years. Whilst at Emmaus I did other training like emergency first aid at work and the fire marshal course. I also got help from the Emmaus UK Companion Training Fund for my own laptop so I could redo some of my GCSEs.

Outside of the work and training at Emmaus Salford I got involved with Foundation 92, a charity connected to Salford City FC. Once a week, me and a few other companions went to to play football on a Tuesday afternoon. The sessions were really good, and it was something to focus on and look forward to each week. One of the lads who was an Emmaus companion at the time is now working for them, constantly meeting Nicky Butt and Gary Neville.

Support in numbers was a good thing for me. I’m quite inward and isolated as a person. I do distance myself and it takes time to build trust and relationships. Emmaus has given me self-belief more than anything else. Getting compliments on my painting and work around the building gave me a boost to my confidence.

Taking the next steps

It was around October 2021 that I did my CV and started applying for jobs using the laptop Emmaus had bought me. I was really selective about the jobs I was applying for as I wanted to find something permanent rather than building sites and agencies. Soon enough I got about five or six different interviews – all permanent jobs at decent places. I ended up getting offered three or four jobs.

The job I accepted was initially a part-time maintenance job at a large hotel chain in Manchester. They only had one other maintenance person, so I suggested they needed another full-time person to cover the work needed on 146 rooms. Thankfully they agreed and the manager secured me an extra 15 hours a week, making it a full-time job.

I started the job at the end of November 2021 and now I’m making it my own. I think I’ve been employed there more so for my decorating knowledge. Beforehand they had people scratching the walls up with luggage and I said, ‘there’s a paint that stops that’. It’s going well and I’m enjoying it.

In terms of the move-on process at Emmaus Salford, after securing a job I was given the time needed to stay at the community whilst finding my own place to live. I started looking for rented accommodation in Salford and Manchester but found the costs were high.

I then realised that actually, if I lived in Liverpool, it’d be cheaper when taking rent and travel into account, so I wouldn’t be out of pocket at all. The other big positive was that I could also be closer to Anfield which, as a Liverpool supporter, was perfect. I viewed a property four streets from Anfield and then three days later went back to get the keys and sign the paperwork.

Making the move

I moved out of Emmaus bit by bit really, taking stuff over to my new house at weekends. Now I’m in, the only change is that I have to get up 20 minutes earlier for work. It’s quieter and I actually have to go out and do my own shopping now! There’s quite a lot that Emmaus provides for you that, once you move out, you realise you’ve got to do by yourself.

Looking ahead, I’m going to a Liverpool FC legends game with a former companion who I’m still friends with. From the staff and companions, I’ve made some good friends at Emmaus Salford who I’m still in regular contact with.

I think just being with Emmaus has helped me build my confidence and made me more determined in what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go afterwards. I don’t think any of that would have been possible without coming here.

No matter what you’re going through, there’s always someone out there who will support you. Whether it’s Emmaus or another charity like the Samaritans, help is only a phone call away. I honestly think if I wasn’t given a place at Emmaus, I may not be here today.

Thank you to everyone who supports Emmaus. Please keep doing it as your donations and finances offered when you buy items in the shops do actually go on to improve lives and help people out.