This week we spoke with Jon, one of our newest companions at Emmaus SLC, to learn about his story and how joining Emmaus improved his situation.

What was your situation prior to Emmaus SLC? 

Prior to Emmaus I was living in Gibraltar doing COVID testing for the Maritime Medical Services in the aviation industry, and prior to this I was employed as a paramedic for 22 years. During my time in Gibraltar, I suffered a very unexpected personal tragedy which meant I needed to return to the UK.  

The tragedy was really difficult to go through and once I had finally dealt with it everything in my life had already fallen apart. I lost all of my savings and I couldn’t find anywhere to live so I had to sofa surf for a while to avoid the streets.  

I eventually ended up staying at a homeless shelter in Milton Keynes called The Bus Shelter, whilst I appreciated their help the service just wasn’t right for me and I needed to move on. They recommended Emmaus to me and I quickly wrote up a referral form and I got accepted not long after. 

I originally joined Emmaus Village Carlton, and although it was an amazing little community, it was just a bit too rural for me. The nearest shop was a 25-minute walk which wasn’t ideal and whilst I don’t mind cows, I don’t want to see them every day! I needed somewhere livelier and more urban because that is the kind of environment in which I thrive in. Following my stint at Village Calton I transferred to Emmaus Gloucester which I enjoyed, I liked the staff and had a good experience but the situation still didn’t feel right for me. That’s when I transferred to Emmaus SLC and although I have not been here long, I already feel like this place is my home. 

How has Emmaus improved your life?

Emmaus just seemingly fixed everything that was wrong in one go. It was everything I needed; I wanted to keep active and busy, I wanted a safe place to sleep, I wanted to eat and keep clean and Emmaus could provide all of that. 

Emmaus gave me a sense of security and improved my worthwhile because I was now a member of a supportive community with lots of opportunities to get work done. For example, I have participated in solidarity activities like going on soup runs in Northampton and Wellingborough. Considering I have been giver all my life and in my career, it felt so right to give back.  

It’s been an amazing journey and I cannot emphasize my gratitude; I am so grateful to be a part of the Emmaus family. Once I’ve moved on, I will encourage anyone who I know of or meet whose dealing with hard times to consider Emmaus. It’s more than just a bed and place to eat; its everything. You get the support network, numerous different opportunities and a purpose. To have so much wrapped up in one package you can’t go wrong. 

Joining Emmaus has really opened my eyes to the bigger picture and what I can achieve within it. I had tunnel vision for so long but I feel more open-minded and confident than ever. As Del Boy once said “The world is your lobster” which is absolutely relevant here! 

What is the community like at Emmaus? 

One of the best parts of being at Emmaus is that you meet so many different people. The diversity here is amazing. I’m already a people person so the ability to be a part of a large and active community is perfect for me. You meet people from all walks of life and it’s really interesting to get to know them and their stories if they’re willing to share. You can talk to someone for just a few minutes and learn so much and form such a strong connection. Everybody can learn from everybody else; nobody knows everything but you can still learn so much by listening to what other people have gone through and what they have to say. 

Have you picked up any new skills in Emmaus? 

Yes. Through Emmaus I discovered that I’m quite good at Upcycling. I enjoy the process of brushing down wooden furniture, waxing and painting it. I had no idea I was good at fixing furniture but apparently I am! I also developed good logistic skills, I can look at a complete bombsite of a shop and make it look pretty. 

I’ve also been able to exercise skills I already had. I go on delivery runs on the vans which allows me to be active and venture out. I also use my social skills to get more involved with communal aspect of Emmaus such as partaking in activities and ensuring everyone is generally doing well.  

What are your plans for the future? 

I plan to eventually move on from Emmaus and when I eventually do there’s a few avenues I’m interested in visiting. One option would be to return to the emergency services, though unlike before I wouldn’t go into the ambulance service. One thing I do want to do at Emmaus is earn my Train The Trainers qualification. This qualification, combined with my first aid experience, would help me join private providers as a training officer. I am also considering St. Johns ambulance service as they are always looking for instructors.