They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that’s so true with homeless people. Having been homeless myself, I know that homelessness can affect anybody. Everyone you see on the street has got a story and every story is different.
My life was out of control. I was in my late twenties and was drinking a lot. I took drugs too, because I was unhappy. My girlfriend was really supportive and has been there for me throughout, but I think a lot of the issues for me were caused by housing. I was stuck living in rented accommodation – in shared houses with other people who had similar issues. I think that had a negative effect on me; it was hard to change when everyone around me was doing the same.
I was trapped in a vicious cycle. I knew I should try to find a job, but had nowhere to live. Sleeping on the streets was so difficult; I felt so sad every day. I rested where I could – mainly in doorways. I didn’t even have clothes to wear if I got a job interview. I’d gone so long without working that I eventually forgot about work.
I felt like I was stuck in a rut – knowing deep down that I needed to change, but not knowing where to find people who might help. My confidence was at an all-time low. I shunned my family and friends and I was spiralling down, cutting myself off from the world; it was a really bad place to be in.
The turning point for me was waking up one day and feeling absolutely shattered inside. I remember feeling that I really wanted to work and feel good again. Thank God I eventually met the right people and I got the right help.
Homeless outreach workers brought me to Emmaus; I looked round, met the people and liked it straight away. I moved in the following week, and I have been happy ever since.
At Emmaus, I lived with like-minded positive people who are taking it step-by-step to improve themselves, and also giving a little bit back to help others too. I wasn’t around the drink and I wasn’t around the drugs. I’ve been clean for years now. I don’t want drink or drugs – I want to put a good day’s work in. It’s like they say – you can give them a fish if they’re hungry, but if you teach them how to fish, that’s better. Emmaus put me through my bricklaying qualifications. I also passed my driving test whilst I was there too, so when I qualified, I could start looking for jobs.
When I think back, I had nothing and now I’ve got my life back. I’ve got a fiancée, I’ve got friends, I’ve got my family and my confidence is building up again – it’s just amazing. We see people at Emmaus who, when they first arrive their confidence is at rock-bottom, but within three months they are flying – they are thinking of all the different avenues they can take their life down – that’s what has happened to me. It’s only thanks to the support I’ve received from Emmaus, family and friends, that I now have hope. I have built my life again. Thanks to Emmaus, the future’s bright – I can do anything and I won’t look back.