Mark's story

Mark painting

Before Emmaus I was homeless for 15 years. I was in and out of hostels during that period, and on the streets. During this time my life was consumed by drugs and alcohol but when I reached my lowest, an amazing lady took me to Emmaus Cambridge and I became a companion. If it wasn’t for the kindness of that lady and Emmaus Cambridge I do not believe I would be alive today; I knew that it was my last resort and if I continued the life I was living, I would die.

Since being at Emmaus I have let go of the past and am focusing on the future. I was a companion at Emmaus Cambridge for 7 years. During this time I detoxed myself and rebuilt my life. Emmaus Cambridge gave me the opportunity to learn new skills and grow in confidence.

After 7 years of being a companion I became a member of staff. During my transition from companion to staff I was greatly supported by the community. I have worked in the business team for 3 ½ years. My job role allows me to work alongside companions, teaching them new skills. Seeing companions grow in confidence and self-worth is very rewarding. I have learnt so much from my time on the street and in Emmaus, which I try to pass on to companions. I know what it is like to deal with addiction and see an unpromising future. Emmaus helped me overcome this and now I want to help other companions do the same.   

The community and I work closely with an Emmaus community in Romania, Santa Mare. I am very passionate about this. The community do amazing work for young, poverty-stricken people. I try to organise companion exchanges as often as possible. This is a great opportunity for both communities to see how the they live. This year we sent a container full of furniture to Santa Mare for them to sell in their community shop.

Along with the business team, I help manage the Ely market on a Thursday and Sunday. The market is a great way for companions to gain confidence speaking to customers. They take pride when talking to members of the public about Emmaus and our community. The markets help us to increase awareness, which is so important for the longevity of our community in Landbeach.

Shabby Chic is a service we now offer, which allows customers to refresh tired looking furniture. I work alongside companions doing the upcycying, who are taught different skills and are encouraged to be creative. We recently had an Annie Sloan Ambassador in to run a workshop with companions teaching them how to use their paints. Shabby Chic allows companions to take pride in their work, seeing the end results gives them confidence and self-appreciation.  

My job at Emmaus Cambridge is different from day to day, I am always being given new challenges and I find it extremely rewarding. Being able to see companions grow and succeed is why I do this job; I am reminded daily of the great work Emmaus does for people.