“I left sixth form at the age of 18. I was due to start an art foundation course so I could go on to do a photography degree, but neither happened.
I had been offered a cash-in-hand job painting theatre backdrops and making props, and the prospect of earning money appealed more to me at the time.
My next job at Virgin Records gave me the chance to combine my two loves, creativity and music. Then a good few years later, I eventually made it to university. It was hard, as I was juggling an evening job and coping with being a single parent at the same time. But I did it.
With little money to spare, I sourced most of my furniture, clothes and household bits from charity shops, including Emmaus Brighton & Hove. I would then do the stuff up and make it my own – before words like ‘upcycling’ or ‘shabby chic’ even existed. It gave me a creative outlet and I loved it.
After my degree, I started working at St Patrick’s night shelter and hostel for the homeless people of Brighton, and stayed there for 10 years. I then spent some time doing wedding photography, while working for a charity that supports victims of crimes like domestic abuse.
When I moved to St Leonards-on-Sea, I was offered a position at Emmaus Hastings & Rother. I was passionate about supporting people who had experienced homelessness and it was an area I had worked in for 10 years previously, so the opportunity to start a new job at Emmaus was amazing.
I helped out with finance and admin at the beginning, then when the role of support manager came up, I applied and got it. I’ve been at Emmaus Hastings & Rother for seven years now, and have got involved in so much.
I’ve managed to unleash my creative side and have taken on a few upcycling projects, mainly crafting display items for the shop. During lockdown, I transformed a sad old dresser and chest of drawers, and added some quirky new touches to our clothing department.
We recently named our clothing section, ‘Get Dressed at Emmaus’, to highlight that pre-loved clothing is an excellent choice these days. It’s sustainable and affordable, and you get to buy items that are completely unique. You can stand out from the crowds! I can’t remember the last time I bought something new, there’s always a great choice of clothing at Emmaus.
Going forward, I hope I can take on some more upcycling projects when time allows, as I love being surrounded by paint, tools, and a sander.”