I’ve been at Emmaus for just under a year. I started at the Upcycling Workshops at the hubs and that’s where I met the support workers, but it was my job advisor at the job centre who told me about Emmaus in the first place.

I used to live in Saxmundham, but I had an accident and injured my hand, and I couldn’t work and wasn’t able to cover my rent. I became homeless, but it’s not the first time I’ve been homeless.

I’ve had five operations on my hand. I crushed my thumb, it got infected, I then got sepsis and I was on the ward for five days. I was on sick pay after that because I couldn’t work, the council would only pay £490 a month and I literally couldn’t live. I was crashing on my mate’s sofa for about a month or so until we managed to get help – that’s when I went to the Salvation Army. Living with my friends was hard, the sofa wasn’t long enough for my legs and none of it was comfortable. He got in trouble with his landlady for having me there.

After that, I went to the Salvation Army, and you have your own room. I worked my way through until I got a bigger room. When I was there, I felt trapped and like I couldn’t get out.

I realised at one point that I basically turned into an alcoholic, without knowing. It was just sort of a social thing, then it was 7 days a week, quite heavily. It was only when I got to the hospital for my hand and they gave me tablets to stop my hands from shaking, I thought ‘Oh I’ve got a problem’. I think I was what they call a functioning alcoholic, it was a social thing and once I got accepted it just went from there. There was nothing else to do, I feel sorry for young people growing up in rural areas because there is nothing to do. I didn’t even feel that bad when I was drinking that much, and when I was working, I could afford it.  I was still looking after myself and still eating. Since I’ve been at Emmaus the drinking has been much better, I’ve had to be accountable, and I’ve had more people around.

Joining Emmaus

I came to Emmaus and moved into the flats above the Royal Oak. I had the half companion offer; I was still on universal credit but I volunteered 16 hours a week, it kept me busy. I was working out on the vans, in the Royal Oak, at the shops, mucking in wherever. I like working, it keeps your mind healthy. I tend to overthink and get myself depressed about situations that I don’t have control over and that’s what happened when I wasn’t working.  I just learnt that everyone is their own worst enemy, I still am but I just don’t let it control me anymore.

People sort of judge you, and question what you’re doing. Like when I first came to Emmaus people would say I didn’t need to do all the volunteering, but I knew it was helping me and I focused on that.

When I first moved into the flat in Royal Oak, I walked in and thought wow this place is huge! I got on with the guys up there and we worked together well. Living in the flat gave me the freedom and allowed me to start looking and training for work.

Until I got my security license and got a job, I felt a bit useless and that’s why I pushed myself so much into volunteering at the charity. It really helped to keep me busy and I do miss it now.

I recently got a job working in security at ASDA. I had to move on and it’s not the greed for money, but I did want to have more independence. When I first got paid, I was so pleased with the independence, I was able to buy myself a new phone and treat myself. I’m really enjoying it; I think the staff like me and I try and get along with everyone. I’m at the security desk so I’m the first person people see when they come into the shop so I make sure I’m friendly and helpful. I’ll be able to save money and for the first time in ages, I’ll be able to go on holiday.

Moving into Hopestead Place

A few months after living at the Royal Oak, I moved to the community house, which has more independence because I didn’t need the daily support from the team. The staff here are genuinely friendly and open and whether we’re talking about nothing, it’s always good to have someone to talk to. Being at Emmaus definitely helped me out.

I move into a new modular home soon, in about 6 nights – not that I’m counting or anything. When they had everyone come through the homes for the open day, I was thinking ‘Wipe your feet!’.

It’ll be really nice to have my own space and peace and quiet. I’m really excited to have my own kitchen to cook in. I enjoy cooking, a long time ago I was a cook in a pub. When I used to live in Enfield my neighbour was Jamaican, and she taught me how to cook jerk chicken and I’m really good at it now. I also like growing chilis and gardening so I’m looking forward to having that outdoor space too. The benefits to my mental health are going to be amazing. I’m really going to feel more independent. Just being able to say as well, that you’ve got your own home.