Kelly's story

aaHampshire Kelly Spinelli companion with flowers 50 140707

Coming to Emmaus was surprisingly easy to do. Everyone has been very welcoming and above all, I have been given the chance to work out in the garden, which I love.

It was a while ago now that my daughter had asked me to leave her house and I had to find somewhere new to live. People advised me to go to a women’s refuge, but I didn’t want to. I have lived in a refuge before, and I know it is for women who are really desperate. When I was there, I was getting away from a very violent man and I needed to stay out of his way. I didn’t want to take a place this time that someone else needed more than me.

It was my son that told me about Emmaus. He has actually lived in the Gloucestershire community, but I didn’t understand what was on offer. I thought it was just for men. I am quite shy around people, men in particular, so the staff were very careful that everyone try to keep things calm around me when I first arrived, but in fact it’s been amazing. I haven’t been in a relationship for nine years, but since I have been here I have met someone who is so different from anyone else I’ve ever spoken to.

We talk about music and books and spirituality – and the time I have out in the garden is really just helping me to feel more at ease in myself. I don’t drink myself, but being in a place where alcohol is banned is also nice. I’ve seen close up the damage it can do. Since being here, I’ve smoothed over the arguments with my family and I hope that, given a little time, I will learn some new skills that I can take away with me.

I’ve always had a go at growing things - in a stick it in the dirt and see what happens kind of way - but here I am learning the proper names of plants, what’s a weed and what’s a plant and how to pick the dead heads off. We have tomatoes and potatoes and radishes, and I’ve planted lavender, roses and fox gloves, I hope that it will be beautiful. I’ve even been enrolled on a horticultural course, starting in September, where I’ll get a qualification to prove what I’m learning. I can’t wait to start.