Jacek's story

Jacek at Emmaus Leeds

A mixture of things led me to being out of work and having nowhere to stay. I broke up with my girlfriend and ended up losing my job at about the same time. This led to me drinking more and things got worse. I couldn’t pay my rent so my landlord evicted me. I went to seek help for housing but no one was willing to help, despite me living and working in the UK for the past six years.

I ended up sleeping rough because the only homeless shelter available to me was full. I kept checking back, having meals there and eventually they let me stay overnight. The shelter was just a place to crash down really. It provided meals and a bed but we had to leave at 7am and could only return at 10pm.

Whilst I was staying at the homeless shelter I went with a friend to visit Emmaus Leeds to see if he could join. I thought to myself, I’m in a similar situation to my friend and Emmaus sounded like a good opportunity for me too. All I could see was positives – a drug and alcohol free environment, a place to gain skills and experience, and somewhere to give me some stability. I joined Emmaus Leeds in June 2014 and have not looked back since.

When I joined Emmaus I was surprised that everyone had their own room, it was more like a studio flat. Everything was provided, from three healthy meals a day, to furniture, a TV and support from the Emmaus staff. I initially worked in the warehouse and coffee shop because I had some prior experience in these areas. I like to cook as well so I have also worked as a kitchen porter and chef.

At Emmaus I gained the food hygiene certificate, completed manual handling training, done courses at Jamie’s Ministry of Food and Love Food Hate Waste, got my PAT testing certificate and completed a fork lift truck (FLT) licence. By doing these courses and gaining the work experience at Emmaus, it has opened the door for me to apply for different jobs.

Being part of Emmaus has given me the stability to move forward with my life. I found a new girlfriend and she encouraged me to go for a new job. I applied to a large retailer to be a Warehouse Operative but mentioned about my FLT license as I was aware they also had these roles. I was successful for the warehouse position but they also offered me an admin role too. I decided to join as a Warehouse Operative and hold out for the FLT Driver position that they said would be available after a few months.

Now I am working full time. I was staying at Emmaus Leeds until I found a new place to live and save up for deposit. Emmaus has a move-on policy to support companions when they decide to leave the community. I met with my Emmaus support worker on a weekly basis and she offered me any help I needed. I now have my own place to live close to where I work.

Being at Emmaus has made me feel part of a family again. I was with these people 24-7 and if I wanted any support it was always there. Now I have left the community I’ll miss it but I’m sure I will pop back in to see everyone. There should be more places like Emmaus and it’s a good thing that it exists. From my own perspective it has helped loads, my health has improved massively and I don’t want to think where I’d be without Emmaus. It has given me opportunity.