I used to have everything: I had a partner, a job, money, a house, a dog.

I was a victim of domestic abuse during my childhood, and as an adult this really affected me. It led me to develop quite a severe drug addiction. I ended up hooked on cocaine for three years. I got into a lot of debt, and I lost my home and my relationship because I didn’t tell my partner the truth about the problems I was facing.

I owed a lot of money to a lot of people. I once had someone assault me and hold me by the neck, because I owed them money. I ended up using my nanna’s inheritance to pay them off.

It was a very dark time in my life. After I split up with my ex, I was homeless for about five months. I started living with my brother – there were two of us sleeping in his very small, rented room, but then just after Christmas his landlady found out and threatened him with eviction if I didn’t leave. I had no choice: I had to leave, and I was rough sleeping from January until the end of March.

Getting clean, drug-wise, was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through. I did it all by myself and it was absolutely horrible. The people I knew from that world were still around me, so there was constant temptation. I thought they were my good friends, but all they did was try to get me to start again. I had to take myself away. I’d rather have no friends and be clean, than be a druggie and have fake friends. I feel really proud of myself for doing it.

A new start

The council helped me apply to Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney and I went over to try it out. After two days, they handed me the paperwork and said, “welcome home”. It was a very nice feeling. I moved in and I lived there for about ten months before I moved up here to join Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire.

One of the best things about being here is that I’m treated like an adult. As long as you give back, and work to help keep the community going, then the support team are there to help you out. It’s a two-way trust thing, and they never talk down to you. They look me in the eye and they treat me with respect. If you’re willing to help yourself then there will be someone to back you and guide you every step of the way.

Since I’ve been at Emmaus, I’ve done training in Food Safety, Manual Handling and Fire Safety. I’m now a Fire Marshall so it’s my job to help get everyone out if there’s a fire. There’s more training that I’d like to do; I want to improve my English skills so I feel more confident when I’m speaking to people.

I’m going to start sessions with a counsellor soon, so I can start to improve my mental health and move forwards. I’ve also bought myself a bike, thanks to the Emmaus UK Companion Training Fund. That’s really important to me. I can get out, get fit again and it’ll help improve my mental health too.

Planning for my future

When I was at school, my favourite subject was food technology and I’ve always liked cooking. Everyone here says I’m a good cook and I enjoy preparing evening meals for the companions.

I have goals and I really want to achieve them. My ultimate, lifetime goal is to have my own pub. I’ve worked in pubs before, and I feel at home when I’m working behind the bar. I love it and I feel so confident when I’m doing it; I feel on top of the world. I know there’s a lot of work to do; I need qualifications in Business Management and more, so I’m hoping that over the next couple of years I can start down that path.

I’m feeling really optimistic about the future. I feel like I mean something by being here; I’m not worthless. I’m able to spread my wings, and it’s a chance for me to prove that I can be a responsible person again.