I was a visual merchandiser for Marks & Spencer for nine years and early in 2013 I gave up my job to move here to Leicestershire.
My partner was the community leader here at Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland when I first moved, and I joined him in the converted hotel where he lived, with 14 formerly homeless people. It was a big step, but seeing Duncan at work gave me the confidence to know that everything would be OK.
His enthusiasm for Emmaus is utterly infectious. He has recently taken a job with the national office which will see him travelling all over the UK helping other communities and new groups.
Duncan’s dad John was homeless for quite a while, and it was thanks to Emmaus that the two of them got to know each other again, after nearly a decade apart. John, who is also a community leader now, in Cambridge, left Duncan to fend for himself when he was only a teenager. Instead of collapsing, though, he coped with the situation by digging in to studying and work.
Going through that difficult time gave Duncan a real insight into the emotional struggles that people can encounter in their lives. He helps those that come to Emmaus regain and maintain their dignity, and I want to be involved in that too, and that's why I've recently started work in as the manager of our new shop, La Boutique. I used to put together window displays at Marks & Spencer, so I’ve been building some different looks for the clothing section of the Emmaus store.
I also sort and steam the clothes, making sure that we keep the best ones for the shop floor, and send the others off for ragging. Nothing goes to waste, which really appeals to me. It’s an exciting time for me and I’m happy to be involved with Emmaus.