My life before Emmaus
Throughout my life I’ve had various jobs, from mundane packing jobs through to working for a concrete firm. I then started working at my local Tesco and I was given an opportunity to work on the management team. This involved overseeing the shop and doing the cash lifts on a regular basis. I also had to do office work, which was a huge new learning curve for me, but I really enjoyed it.
Prior to getting this role, I had already lost my father to lung cancer – I looked after him right up to the end. My mum was then taken ill and it turned out that she had Crohn’s disease. I was juggling looking after my mum and holding down this job with big responsibilities. Eventually, I turned to alcohol as a crutch to help me get through the day. I got a phone call early one morning saying that it was looking bleak for my mum. I went to the hospital and sadly I sat there until she passed over.
When my dad died the house was in council ownership and I was told I had protected tenancy. In the meantime, between the two deaths, a housing association took over ownership from the council. They told me I couldn’t stay in my home which I had lived in since I was 16. They didn’t offer me anything, so sofa surfing came into it. Eventually, the last sofa ran out and I spent 18 months street homeless in the Cambridge area – and my bedroom was a graveyard. When I was homeless, I had lost all my dignity.
I moved to Emmaus Dover in 2010
I first heard about Emmaus from an outreach worker I met at a night shelter. He explained everything about Emmaus, and how I would get my own room and the chance to work in their shops but when he mentioned that it was drug and alcohol free that made it even more attractive to me. I moved to Emmaus Dover in 2010. When I first arrived here, I had the grand total of 19p in my pocket, not even enough to buy a cup of coffee.
Everything was going fine but then I started to develop itchy feet. I went on the council list and started bidding on properties. On 10th December 2018 I had a phone call to say that they had a property for me. I was so excited to be out in the great wide world again. However, I had no work and didn’t know anybody in the area and unfortunately, I started to descend back to the drinking again. I thought I was ready to move on, but I wasn’t.
Everyone at Emmaus Dover were worried about me and were trying to get in touch, but I was in that state of mind where I didn’t want to see anyone. One day I woke up to an envelope on the floor. It was from Debbie, the Community Manager at Emmaus Dover, saying they were getting a room ready for me and to just bring the bare minimum. When I received the letter from Debbie I broke down in tears. I was so relieved. I was drinking heavily, and human interaction was only one day a week for about three minutes when my food delivery arrived.
Upon coming back to Emmaus, I fell straight back into the routine. I was so grateful to have a home and meaningful steady work again. Most of the time I’m dealing with the logistics of booking collections and deliveries, which I enjoy doing. We’re also in the process of trying to get the funding for a new building because part of the shop is in urgent need of replacing.
Emmaus has given me my dignity back. It’s given me an ever-changing family; I love the camaraderie and the banter – we all get on. I would be dead if it weren’t for Emmaus, I would have been found with a load of bottles next to me and that would have been it. I would be just another statistic. Emmaus has saved my life.