My name is Steven but my nickname here is Geordie as I’m from Durham and have a strong North East accent. I live and work at Emmaus Preston and joined the community here in March 2016.

How I ended up homeless is a long story. I was working for the ex-footballer Bobby Kerr. He ran a restaurant at Seaham Harbour and I worked in the kitchen there. I had a house with my children and had split up from the wife. After about six years, stress took hold and led to depression, drink and the usual things.

Homeless at Christmas

With no help or support I lost my house and ended up homeless. I spent a Christmas in a friend’s allotment as I had nowhere else to go – it was scary and cold. I made some friends and they took us in and helped me to start sorting my life out. They put my name forward to try and get a place at Emmaus Preston. Luckily enough they had a space available and took me in.

When I first started here it was a bit scary as I didn’t know anyone. There’s some good people here and I get on with them all. We have some jokes and pranks and that helps the day go by. We also have community social events such as quiz night, bowling and go karting.

Utilising my skills

I have two or three roles at Emmaus Preston. I work in the kitchen, down at the Emmaus Preston Megastore and I also have the role of a Responsible Companion (RC). In the kitchen I prepare meals for the whole community. Of an evening this is for about 22 companions but this is nothing for me as I used to cook for about 300 people in my previous job.

At the Megastore I’m in charge of the warehouse at the back of the store. I make sure it’s all tidy, help load and unload the vans, build up any flat-pack items and carry out basic repairs. As an RC I’m a key holder at night-time, making sure our building is secure and everyone is safe within the community.

An opportunity to progress

Since joining Emmaus I’ve completed a number of training courses. To work in the kitchen I needed the NVQ Level 2 Food Hygiene as mine had lapsed a year previous. I’ve completed that and I’ve also got a new certificate under my belt, the first aid course. The next one I’m due to do is the fire marshal course.

At the moment I can say I’ve regained my self-respect. Before joining Emmaus Preston I had no self-respect – I didn’t bother about myself, I didn’t care about anything. You can ask people round here, my confidence has gone way way higher than it was when I started. I’m happy at the minute.

I’d like to say thank you to all the people who support Emmaus. It’s not just us who makes Emmaus, it’s the volunteers, customers, people who donate – there are many people to thank. I wish I could thank every single one personally but I don’t think I’ll be here long enough.