Companion Stories: Scott
"I had every opportunity to make something of myself when I was growing up. I went to private school, my parents offered to pay for driving lessons, I was supported when I decided to leave school at 16, but somehow I kept making wrong turns. My brother was offered the same chances and took them, but I decided I knew better.
At 16, I started a YTS course to learn how to care for the elderly, children and those with mental and physical disabilities, but two thirds of the way through I gave it up and instead I took a job with my uncle. I was one of those people that comes to your door and flogs you dusters and polishing cloths and actually I was quite good at it, quite enjoyed it, but then I got bored again.
I went and worked with my dad for a while, as a joiner, but he was a real perfectionist. I couldn't match his expertise and we started to argue. He was very rigid, very proper, whereas my mum's side of the family seemed much more relaxed and inviting. In my late teens, that seemed far more exciting than hard graft and I drifted towards them.
My mum always said my auntie should have been my real mum, and for a while I felt like it was true - we clicked and had fun together. We did car boot sales and made some money and she introduced me to lots of people, including my girlfriend at the time. I was pretty naive and didn't realise that my new partner was into much harder drugs than I was.
We were living together before long, and I was going out to work and handing her my wages to pay the rent and buy food and nothing was appearing on the table. Before long she owned up what was going on, and stupidly I thought: 'Well, I'm not going to waste my money on the sensible stuff, while she's having fun, I want to try it too." And that was the beginning of the end, really.
Once I had got into heroin, the next ten years were just about stealing to feed my habit, but I wasn't even any good at it. I got caught and sent to prison so many times. I’d go to jail, I'd get clean, I'd come out, I'd go home, my mum would forgive me, help me and set me up with clothes and food and then I'd meet up with my old friends and the slippery slide would begin again. Sometimes it took less than two months for me to end up back in jail.
Getting to Emmaus took a couple of tries. The second to last time that I was in prison I was given some great opportunities to get some qualifications. I did Maths and English, and one of the comprehension papers that I was set was all about a homeless organisation that took people in and gave them a roof over their heads as well as the opportunity to work. It was talking about Emmaus. When I got out I applied and was accepted for Emmaus Cambridge, but, at the same time I was accepted into a rehab clinic. I chose the clinic, knowing that my mum was desperate for me to get clean.
Of course, I messed it up. Getting off heroin is hard. You have to want it for yourself - it's not enough to know that you are doing it for someone else. Before long I was back in jail. When I came out the next time, a friend from prison had made it to Emmaus. He told me more about it, and I became convinced that it was the only option for me. I rang Cambridge again, because at that point I didn't know that Emmaus was a world-wide organisation, I didn't know that there were 24 different sites in the UK, I just remembered that English test and I knew that I had to get away from home, get away from the same old influences.
Luckily they took me in. That was two years ago now, and since then I have had my ups and downs. I had started to progress - I was 'lent out' to the Leicestershire & Rutland Community when they were getting started to help them set things up, but I slipped. I had a can of beer and suddenly, even though I'm not a drinker, the urge was back stronger than ever to just give up and go and do something else. I got caught, though, sent back to Cambridge where I thought they'd fling me out on my ear. I would have deserved it, too, but they didn't.
My Community leader was brilliant. I can't describe how it felt to be given another chance, but they recognised that I had the potential to be a good worker, to contribute. It gave me the strength to give up methadone for good. Now I'm a Responsible Companion which means I can be on call to look after the place, lock up at night, to see if anyone needs anything. I've met the Duchess of Cornwall, I've been on exchange to Holland to stay in an Emmaus there and I'm off to Paris in the summer to the Salon. My life is great at the moment, and the icing on the cake is that my mum has said she will come to visit.
Understandably, for a long time she felt that I had let her down, because she took me in and helped me so many times, even after my dad died of Motor Neurone Disease, and I just threw it back in her face. But at Christmas I spoke to her for the first time in over three years, and it was lovely. I think she can be proud of me now, especially since I have been given responsibility for managing a new Emmaus shop. I want to stay with Emmaus for a while longer to try and pay back what they have given me - a life. If it weren't for Emmaus I'd be dead by now, but instead I'm earning my own living and I love it."