I found myself at Emmaus Village Carlton after my husband, Richard, died very suddenly whilst we were living on our houseboat in Turkey.

I came back to this country and stayed with relatives but I knew I needed to be somewhere which would give me a stepping stone into a new life, and where I could begin to work through everything which had happened to me. I had also begun a six-month sleepout to raise money for the homeless, in Richard’s memory, and I knew I would be able to complete this at Emmaus (I did and raised £4,000). I ended up spending five months as a companion.

Now I’m living in a lovely sheltered accommodation flat in Milton Keynes, with views onto the lake and a park. Emmaus helped me so much practically, with the resettlement package and the physical problems of moving.

Looking back, I’m now able to see what I gained from being in the community. It gave me time and space. I had brilliant ongoing help from my support worker. Nobody questioned what I was doing there. It was good to be amongst such a varied group of people and gradually I learned to relax. I sometimes felt exhausted with the effort of coping and worked hard in the Bistro but I now volunteer with homeless people and feel completely at ease. Emmaus certainly knocked a few chips off my shoulder and I’m grateful.

Now, I have no long-term plans and am happy to take each day as it comes. I’m open to new experiences and am grateful to Emmaus Village Carlton and the companions for the time I spent there.