“My name is Mark, I'm 58 and I arrived at Emmaus in April 2014 following the loss of my parents and the subsequent breakdown of my marriage; it was a really difficult time in my life. I have always struggled with a chronic back condition and while it is much better today, back then I was heavily reliant on pain relief. One day, after a petty row with my wife, I convinced myself that I wasn’t strong enough to cope anymore. I stuffed my pockets with painkillers, headed for the beach and took as many as I could. Fortunately I wasn’t successful in taking my own life, as someone found me and called an ambulance. But when I returned back home, things just weren’t the same; my wife said she didn’t recognise me anymore. The relationship went downhill, and she asked me to leave.
When I was kicked out, my sister told me she could put me up for a couple of weeks, but after that I would have to find alternative accommodation; I had no one to turn to and nowhere to go. I turned to the church and after explaining my situation they mentioned Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney. I went along and met the General Manager, who said that if the companions, as people who as now being supported by Emmaus after experiencing homelessness are known, were happy for me to live there and avoid any heavy lifting then I could move in. Back then, there were only five companions in the community and they were all happy with the arrangement, so I came in and worked on the front desk, answering the telephone. It worked well; I enjoyed being front of house greeting people. I was fearful at first, as I’m naturally quite a shy person and the break-up had damaged my confidence but it soon came back.
I was at Emmaus for almost three years, and the best thing that came out of my time was that it made me believe in myself again. I was able to undergo surgery on my back, which helped greatly. Once I had recovered, I was then keen to take the next step and work towards moving on… no sooner had I thought about moving out and getting a job, was it actually happening. I applied to the council for sheltered housing and within three or four weeks, a home had been found for me. Shortly after, I applied for a receptionist role at the Probation Office in Norwich and was successful. I feel so lucky, really. Emmaus gave me a new lease of life; it takes you in and harnesses your potential, believing in you when you’re at your lowest. What’s more, the support continues, even once you leave; for that, I’m grateful.”