Tuesday 9 October 2018

“Work, family, friends, money: I lost everything”

Leigh Duffield

Formerly homeless man thanks Emmaus for helping to turn his life around...

On World Homeless Day (10 October), a formerly homeless man is sharing his experience of alcohol addiction and thanking Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire for helping him change his life.

Leigh Duffield (44) has now turned his life around after alcoholism led to the breakdown of his relationship and unemployment:

I had always drunk socially, but slowly over time the casual drinking turned into something more. Over a period of about a year, I became a functioning alcoholic. The more I drank, the more depressed I felt and at the time, the only way to deal with that was to get up in the morning and drink more. Every day just became about having enough money to buy alcohol. I started to hate myself.”

As his addiction worsened, Leigh ended up in trouble:

I can remember the actual day when I lost the roof over my head, my relationship and my job. It was about six months ago; my girlfriend found empty bottles hidden around the house and decided she’d had enough. I left with the clothes on my back and £20 in my pocket.”

Leigh ended up staying with friends, but the drinking continued:

I was sofa-surfing but although my friends tried to help me, you’ve got to want to help yourself. My health was suffering really badly; if I had carried on the way I was, I would’ve ended up dead. Then one day I just woke up and realised I really didn’t like who I had become. I was screaming out for help; thankfully people listened, and I reached out and grabbed my second chance with both hands.”

After three months of specialist rehab support, Leigh was introduced by outreach workers to Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire. We gave him a place to live and the support he needed to continue to overcome his alcohol addiction.

We provide a home and meaningful work for 18 people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion. Some stay for a few months as they gain confidence and skills before they are ready to move on to independent living; others are in need of longer-term support and are able to stay for as long as they need to.

Leigh now helps to raise funds for our charity by working on our  van service, collecting and delivering furniture for customers at our shop on Red Lane in Coventry. He is also doing a level 3 diploma in Health and Social Care, something which helps him focus on a life as part of society again and also brings valuable skills.

Leigh is now hopeful for the future and grateful for the support he has received:

Emmaus is invaluable to me; without it I really don’t know where I would have ended up. The people here really understand me, and thanks to them, my life is finally going in the right direction again.”

We're celebrating our 25th anniversary this year by calling on local people to help us raise £25,000 by the end of 2018. The next fundraising event will be a sponsored sleepout in Coventry. The large-scale City SleepOut event, organised by Three Spires Round Table for Emmaus, will take place on Saturday 27 October at Coventry & North Warwickshire Cricket Club on Binley Road. To find out more and register for this sponsored event, visit www.citysleepout.org

If you have been inspired by Leigh’s story and want to help the charity in other ways, contact us to find out how you can get involved. It can be as simple as donating unwanted furniture or picking up a bargain at our second-hand furniture shop on Red Lane in Coventry. Call us on 02476 651094 to find out more.