I was an alcoholic for 24 years. Now I’ve turned my life around.
I was 15 when my problems with addiction began. I didn’t have a bad childhood so I can’t blame anyone but myself. At that time, alcohol was what made me feel good. I ended up leaving home and from then on, I was on my own.
I was homeless on the streets of Preston for four years. I used to sleep on the steps of the Guild Hall. I then spent seven years walking and hitchhiking across the UK. During that time I must have travelled the entire length of Britain.
I would not wish homelessness on anybody. You learn to adapt to survive but it’s very hard. I never begged. I always managed to find casual work at places like car washes and travelling funfairs. I found ways to earn the cash because I wanted the beer. At the end of the day, I’d pick a spot for the night, have a few beers and crash out. It wasn’t living, it was existing.
I’d get itchy feet and move on after being in one place for a while; I liked to go to a new area and start again.
After many years, I met someone and we ended up marrying. We had three kids and we lived together in the family home. Unfortunately, my relationship broke down and we went our separate ways. After that, I spent another couple of years sleeping rough.
I had a grandson and I would call up to tell my daughter I was on my way to visit and take him out. Quite often though, I’d meet someone on the way; we’d have a beer and three days might pass by. My daughter got so angry.
One day I reached a turning point. I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I didn’t want my grandson to see me smashed out on a park bench.
I moved into a Christian rehab to work on my alcohol addiction. It wasn’t easy, but I worked hard. After three years of being clean, I felt ready to take steps to re-join the big wide world.
I wanted to go somewhere for a fresh start and so in 2020 I moved to Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire. They were really welcoming when I arrived and I felt accepted immediately. It was nice to feel a part of the team and it felt so good knowing had a home for as long as I needed it.
I started off working on the Bulky Waste van, collecting furniture and household items to save them from going to landfill. Later, when I moved roles to help run the charity shop on Red Lane, I realised I had a talent for selling; I enjoyed talking to customers on the shop floor and meeting new people every day.
The Emmaus support team were really good and always had time for me. If I was having a bad day, I knew I could just go and knock on their door.
After a while, I travelled down to see Mum for the first time in a decade, and it was such an emotional day for both of us. There were many apologies from me, for the way I have behaved over the years. We talked and we asked a lot of questions. We had a lot of catching up to do. She said to me that she’d never seen me so positive.
I was invited to attend an Emmaus anniversary event at Clarence House and met Camilla when she was HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. I was also able to attend the Platinum Party in the Park for the Queen’s Jubilee. To be able to go to both these felt crazy but absolutely amazing. It was all thanks to Emmaus and I felt so blessed in every way.
I applied for a job as a hospital porter. It was my first ever official job interview – all my previous jobs I’d got through word-of-mouth. I got a call back for my second interview that afternoon and then I found out I’d got it.
It was great that for the first few weeks of my new job, I was able to stay living in the Emmaus community accommodation. It helped me to save so I could get my own place, and it also meant I didn’t have to deal with lots of big changes all at once. I settled into working life, and then moved out when I felt ready.
I reflect back on the scumbag that I once was, but that’s not who I am now. These days, I go to bed in a good mood and I wake up in a good mood. I’m so pleased I made that decision to change my life, and very grateful to Emmaus for their help in making that happen.