Duncan's story

L R Duncan Gall Cambridge John Gall Family affair 200213web

I have good reason to appreciate what Emmaus does - because basically, it gave me my dad back.

I was only 12 years old when my mum died of cancer, leaving me in my dad's care. Unfortunately, he really struggled to come to terms with mum's death, and he used alcohol as a crutch. When I was 16, I went on holiday with some friends. When I got home, I found an eviction notice on the door. My dad had disappeared.

I managed to get myself a bedsit, did my A-levels and got a job in a warehouse. My dad was living on the streets of our home town, sleeping in bus shelters and begging for money.

Then he disappeared completely. For six years I had no idea if he was alive or dead. I just had to get on with my life. But one day, in 2002, I received an invitation to my dad's wedding. Unbeknown to me, in 2000, he had moved to Emmaus in Cambridge, where he'd received the support he needed to overcome his alcoholism.

I had no hesitation in going to the wedding. I knew it would be difficult, but I missed my dad and really wanted him back in my life. Emmaus had completely turned his life around.

I began visiting him regularly, and ended up staying with him for 18 months, working alongside him in at Emmaus Cambridge, where he had become community manager. When the Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland community advertised for a community leader in 2012, he encouraged me to apply and I got the job.

Since starting at the community we have grown a thriving business from an empty shell of a warehouse and a disused hotel as our community home. I've enjoyed seeing companions take on responsibility and start classes in everything from English to IT. I'm also active in the international Emmaus movement, taking on responsibility for trying to encourage a new generation of supporters to become involved with our charity, both working in the communities and as volunteers, donors or trustees.

I speak to my dad all the time, and he really is an inspiration. I'm so proud of what he has achieved at Cambridge, and I hope that I can do the same for Leicestershire & Rutland. I often tell new companions how far he has come and how Emmaus transformed his life and mine, for the better.