I was born in Germany and spent a few years there as an army child before moving to Leicester. Throughout my life I travelled quite a bit and eventually I ended up in Gloucestershire. In 2011 I was at a really low point in my life but fortunately I found Emmaus Gloucestershire. Whilst I was living and working there my confidence was building so I decided to move out. I think I left Emmaus Gloucestershire a bit too early and not long after I left I found myself homeless again.

With nowhere else to go I knew my only chance would be to join another Emmaus community. In October 2014 I was given a second chance and welcomed in at Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland. For the first few months I hid away quite a bit, working in the clothes sorting area at their Boutique shop in Hinckley. I then started to get to know the other companions more and my work diversified, helping out in The Emporium shop, out on the vans and in the café.

This experience allowed me to learn lots in a short space of time from the staff and my fellow companions. Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland was, at the time, a relatively new community so there was a lot of changes and challenges happening within the charity. This meant the companions had to step up a bit, be more confident, take charge a bit more and have increased responsibilities. I gained a lot in this time and learned how to take things on the chin a lot more. There wasn’t always a staff member around so we had to do it ourselves and think on our feet. It was good, honest hard work and while there were some tough times, we all mucked in and worked together as a team. Everyone shared skills, learned from each other and shared respect for one another.

I felt pride and satisfaction from the work I did with fellow companions.

We’d go out and complete a house clearance, come back dirty and shattered but satisfied knowing we had done a hard day’s work that would benefit Emmaus and the customers we serve.

I originally didn’t have any plans to leave the Emmaus community in Hinckley. I was enjoying the work and building some good friendships. My plans soon changed when I met a lovely lady who walked into the café at The Emporium. We got talking, became friends, then went out on a date together and the relationship has progressed from there. My confidence when I came to Emmaus was very low but thanks to this place it started building up again. Due to what I was learning here and my increasing confidence, this really helped on the relationship side.

Several factors came together at the right time. I met my partner, my confidence was building and I managed to secure a job down at Leicester Tigers. This was a stewarding job at first but I thought if I can go for this, it may develop or I can get another job and perhaps go for the move-on policy (the support offered when someone decides to leave Emmaus). Soon enough, with everything falling into place, I decided to move out of the Emmaus community and start living with my partner.

I kept going as a steward and really enjoyed it. I then took on the responsibilities in the car park for the busy events at Leicester Tigers. This involves customer service, a bit of security, recycling and helping with delivery trucks. They’re brilliant down at Leicester Tigers and have really welcomed me into the team. I’m enjoying my work, meeting lots of people, feel respected by the staff and proud of the role I do at Leicester Tigers.

I recently got married. My wife works full time as a teaching Assistant so outside of work I help out as much as I can around the house, take the dogs for a walk and volunteer at a local youth club. I’m always busy and really feel part of the community where I now live. I still visit my friends at Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland and will always give them my support whenever I can.

This charity definitely does work. I never knew about Emmaus many years ago but when I joined Emmaus Gloucester in 2011 and spent time at Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland I started to get my life back on track. When I joined Emmaus I was at a very, very low point in my life. I came to Emmaus and have built myself back up. It does give you your dignity back, your self-respect and offers you support to get back out into the big wide world. Thank you to my fellow companions and the staff at Emmaus for supporting me along the way – you are all fantastic!