Keith's story

Keith Emmaus Story image

I was young when I first started using alcohol - in my early teens – and as the years went by, the drinking just continued.

Around the age of 21, I met my fiancée and needed to make more money so I got a job as an engineer, mending and operating machinery. It was excellent pay and we bought a house together. However, as I could do the job just as easily drunk as I could sober, my drinking didn’t stop.

Things took a turn for the worse when I got another girl pregnant. I expected my fiancée to condemn me but she didn’t. The guilt I felt drove me to a nervous breakdown and I ended up hospitalised for two months. When I came out, I moved in with the girl expecting my baby, in an attempt to make a go of things.

As a functioning alcoholic, although I adored my baby son, he wasn’t my first priority. I treated my girlfriend very badly, going out for hours on end and leaving her to look after the baby. My mum and dad disowned me. I felt so very low. It was at this point that I tried to commit suicide.

For a while I tried really hard to stay on the straight and narrow, and I was able to see my son with the help of my parents.

I spiraled back into trouble again a few years later; I broke my leg and because I was laid up and not working, I got depressed. The next few years passed in a blur. I was stealing, drinking, using class A drugs and eventually I ended up going to jail for fighting in a pub.

Unfortunately, when I came out, nothing changed. Over the next seven years I went from living in my own flat to being homeless - surviving on the streets. I ended up living in a squat, using harder drugs and stealing. In a way, it sort of felt like a release. I wasn’t responsible for anyone else and I could do what I wanted.

But one day, something happened. I woke up and saw needles and cans all around me, and I hit a wall. I didn’t want to do it any more, didn’t want to be there. I took myself to the local alcohol and drug services unit and they referred me to a rehab clinic where, after 11 months, I managed to get clean. I stayed for another two years doing voluntary work and learning to be a landscape gardener. I made up with my son and my parents, after years of being away from them. For the first time, I was clean and sober and my son loved it. Things were going so well I started my own business, but then the recession hit. I was out of work again, and I had to move out of the rehab accommodation.

In January 2012, my son killed himself. I’ll never know why, and I just have to hold onto the fact that he knew that I had got clean. I held his hand in the mortuary and made him a promise: that I would not go back to my old ways. I was very lucky because at that time, when I could have fallen apart so easily, I met one of the trustees from Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland who told me all about the support Emmaus provides.

I applied and went to live at Emmaus Cambridge, and I loved it. Everyone was so kind and understanding and I could finally help others who were less fortunate than me. After years of taking and taking and not giving back, I could finally put a smile on somebody else’s face. I recently moved to Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland to be closer to my family and friends. I want to stay here long term, and I hope that one day I might even make it to a more permanent position.

I want to spread the word and let people know about the fantastic work Emmaus does. Not only have they changed my life, but they support so many other people too. Emmaus really is a very well-kept secret! For me, Emmaus is all about support – giving people a purpose - a reason to get out of bed and do something positive everyday – not only for yourself, but for others. It is also all about hope; thanks to Emmaus I now have hope for the future, whatever it brings.