I was actually a volunteer for two months before I joined Emmaus Preston as a companion in December 2018. I got involved as volunteer at Emmaus through the Jobcentre as I was bored and wanted to do some work. I’d been on sickness benefits for a while, but my health had improved quite a lot. I’m not the kind of person who likes sitting around, I’d rather be out there doing something.

Ironically, because I was volunteering the Jobcentre realised I could do some degree of work, they started cutting my benefits. I lost the severe disability premium and got refused for PIP so the money I had to live on dropped massively.

Constant worry

It got to the point where my benefits had been cut so much that I was constantly worried whether I had gas, electric and food. I was only really eating when I volunteered at Emmaus. It got that bad that I could only save enough food for my little lad coming around at weekends. I couldn’t go on like that, so I ended up losing the place where I lived.

Thankfully, when I spoke to the staff at Emmaus Preston and asked if there was any help they could offer me, they said I would be more than welcome to move in. I said as long as I could see my lad at weekends then I was game for that. If I wasn’t offered this place at Emmaus it would’ve been a real struggle.

Learning new skills

Now I’m here full-time I’m usually down at the Emmaus Megastore, working to sort donations, repair and build furniture, and serving customers. I’ve learned how to use the tills and computer system to book on deliveries and collections. It makes a nice change because before I was on the sick I was training to become a plumber. Before that I did do some warehousing work but nothing like what I’m doing now.

I really like being part of the Emmaus Preston community, living with around 20 other people. Obviously, with the greatest respect to everyone living here, you can’t always get along with everybody, but there’s not many people I don’t get on with. Everyone seems to help each other out, whether that be sitting and chatting or offering help to someone.

At Emmaus I still get to see my lad every weekend. I pick him up on Friday evening and drop him back off on Sunday after tea. I also pop round in the evenings to see him too.

Personal development

In terms of development, I’m quite fascinated with the mind and how the brain works so I regularly see a lady from Lancashire MIND. She’s a wellbeing coach and has advised me to go into the sciences to learn more about this area. I hope to do more training and gain some qualifications that will help me to get a job and my own home.

The people here at Emmaus are very helpful and kind. I’d like to thank all the people who donate items and shop with us. We could do with as much support as we can get and it’s all appreciated by everyone here.