I have been a companion at Emmaus Village Carlton since early 2019.

I’m a qualified stonemason. I lost my job through no fault of my own and became increasingly isolated and depressed, living on a canal boat with my dog, Patch (short for ‘Apache’). I knew I was going downhill, not eating and becoming increasingly reliant on alcohol. Patch certainly had a better diet than his master.

Eventually I was helped by an organisation that found me a place in a night shelter, from which I was referred to Emmaus.

It is fantastic to be here. You get an ensuite room, good food, and a staff team always ready to listen and give support. It’s brilliant and you can’t believe your luck.

Community life anywhere has its ups and downs. Forty or so people living together, all with their own stories and varying backgrounds would be a challenge for anyone. You get disagreements, of course, but my view is ‘live and let live’ as much as possible.

The work ethic is strong, and you must be prepared to get up and get to work, as well as agreeing to daily breathalysing. Some people find it tough having to take orders and for others, getting up in the morning for work is hard, particularly if you’ve never really had a job. Work and ‘home for as long as you need it’ might not be for them and they may have to leave. Having said that, many come back to Emmaus and try again…and again.

I recently painted our Bistro with hand drawn stripes. People actually think its wallpaper. I also sculpt in stone and presented an ‘Emmaus’ carving to Terry Waite when he visited at Christmas 2019.

During lockdown when the local barber couldn’t visit, I started cutting hair and now charge companions £3 a time, raising money for our ‘Rucksack Stomp.’ This is an activity managed by companion Christian, where two or three of us take clothing, toiletries, sandwiches and hot drinks and chat with the homeless in Northampton. We are just there to help if we can. We talk about Emmaus if they want us to, but not everyone who is homeless is prepared, or able to work and fit into a community. Maybe one day.

Emmaus can be a real springboard into the future but there’s no pressure at all for me to move on. I have no concrete plans at the moment to leave the community. For now, I am grateful for what Emmaus offers me; I’m happy to see what might develop, but I’m in no hurry.