When I was 16 I left school and got a job as a junior in a transport firm. Then the company hit hard times and within a year I was made redundant – last in, first out. After that I worked as a clerk in the office of a company that made armoured vehicles. When I was 18, my dad died suddenly.
My mum was in a bad way and so I stayed to look after her. Over the next few years she had several strokes and so I acted as her carer, until in 1986, she died too. I was still living in their council house, but it was too big for me on my own so after a while I transferred to a flat.
I got a new job as a postman, but a run of bad weather meant I got really sick with flu and I resigned from the job. I started signing on, and while I was doing that I volunteered at Emmaus in Coventry. There were some complications with my benefits at that point, and I lost my flat, so I decided to move in to the Emmaus community.
I stayed at Coventry for 15 years. It was like an ever-changing family, I saw tragedies and people coming and going. When they shut down for refurbishment, I went to Emmaus Village Carlton. I was there for nearly five years, but when I turned 60 I felt like I needed to move on.
I have missed the hustle and bustle of the community, but I need my own space. I like making my own decisions about what to eat and when, and what to do with my time.
I’m used to working every day and I am looking for a new job, but times are tough. I still go back to the community to volunteer every Tuesday. I really like working with wood and I’m currently doing a course in wood carving at Bedford College.
Moving away was always going to be a leap of faith, but Emmaus helped me until I was ready to take steps towards living on my own.
I’ve been out of the community for a while now, and I love having my own flat and time to get involved in things that I enjoy, like historical visits and just getting out and about in the local area. I’ve got great neighbours, and a kind landlord and Emmaus also helps me with sorting out things like my bills and utilities.
I’ll never forget the support I had from Emmaus. Volunteering here is a great way to feel like I am keeping in touch with the community that supported me for five years. I live nearby and I’m job-seeking, so this is also a good way to add skills to my CV. I do enjoy volunteering – I help with sorting through the bric-a-brac donations that people have brought in. I sort through and make sure everything is clean and can be resold. Volunteering gives me something to do, and I feel I owe the community a lot – it’s a good way to pay back some of their kindness.