My name is Chelsea and I’m almost 22. I joined Emmaus Colchester in April 2017 after a friend recommended it to me.
When I was 20, my mum kicked me out of home. After losing her son, to cardiac arrest in 2004, she became an alcoholic. I was nine at the time and it really hit the family, particularly my mum. Her alcoholism caused more arguments and after she kicked me out I went to live with my boyfriend in a caravan.
I was working in a nightclub at the time, which was difficult because I wouldn’t get the chance to spend much time with my boyfriend, but we managed to make things work. We had been living together for eight months until, in January this year I found out that he was cheating on me with a close friend.
We split up, and with nowhere to live, I began to sofa surf between my friends and family. Sofa surfing is really hard because you feel like you’re an inconvenience and you don’t have any real privacy to relax. Soon after I lost my job at the nightclub meaning I wasn’t just homeless, I was now unemployed too.
I signed onto jobseekers allowance and I spent countless hours meeting with the council to try and find myself some accommodation. I was referred to the Youth Enquiry Service, but nothing was working out. I wasn’t enjoying life. I went to see my doctor and I was prescribed anti-depression tablets.
In April a friend of mine told me about Emmaus. He’d lived at the community in Colchester before and was looking to re-join. We both applied and moved in on the same day, which was fantastic.
Having him around made it a lot easier for me to settle into the community. There are some good people here who have all had difficulties in the past, so I think it’s important that people don’t judge a book by its cover.
Straight away, I loved being given the opportunity to do different jobs. It’s helping me to build up my work experience, which will help me so much in the future. I’m more of a hands-on person, so I spend three days a week in the workshop upcycling and restoring furniture donations to be sold in the Emmaus Colchester shops.
In the short time I’ve been here I’ve noticed a real change in the way I feel, and I now no longer need the anti-depressant tablets. On the days that I am feeling down I know there are people I can talk to including JJ, our companion rep.
As a group we spend a lot of time together. Last month ten of us took part in a colour run, which was really good fun. It was the first sponsored run I’d done and it’s something I’d love to do again. I also organised a bake sale at the community to raise money for a local charity in Colchester, Cardiac Arrest in the Young. Losing my brother to cardiac arrest was devastating, so it’s really important to me to encourage people everywhere to get checked out.
Whilst I’m here at Emmaus I want to learn as many different skills as possible. I’m still on my own journey here at Emmaus, but I’m hoping to sign up to a joinery course in the future and develop my carpentry skills. My brother is a carpenter in the area and we’ve spoken about me joining his business when I’m ready to leave Emmaus.
My relationship with my mum has also improved and she’s visited the community a couple of times. It’s made me so much happier knowing that she can see I’m in a safe place surrounded by an amazing group of people.