"Before Emmaus, I was sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester due to family disputes and having nowhere else to go. Finding Emmaus gave me a new outlook on life, and I moved into the Salford community in November 2015, before moving to Emmaus Hertfordshire in 2017.
Emmaus Salford took the time to find out what I enjoyed doing, what skills I had and what I wanted to gain. As a result of this the community gave me the opportunity to apply for college and then to support me in finishing my course in music. They also managed to find me a saxophone, donated from another community, to help me progress in my course.
My time at Emmaus Salford allowed me to gain many new skills while I worked in their charity shops, helping with delivery and collections. I also worked in the community doing housework, cleaning and kitchen jobs. I really enjoyed being part of the community, and I enjoyed the interaction with the customers and other companions. I always had a chance to chat with many different people and learn something new all the time.
I moved to Emmaus Hertfordshire in 2017 after visiting the community on holiday. Although I was happy in Salford, I felt ready for a change – different people, a different community, and the opportunity for new experiences.
The main differences between the two communities is size. Emmaus Hertfordshire has double the amount of shops and more companions than Salford. At first, it was difficult to remember everyone’s names but I have settled in well. I enjoy working in all of the different shops and I have started to think about jobs in retail management when I eventually leave Emmaus.
Emmaus Hertfordshire offer a lot of training opportunities, and I am currently having driving lessons thanks to the Companion Training Fund from Emmaus UK. I have also been able to continue music here and joined a guitar group made up of companions. We even managed to get a few gigs across London, which was a lot of fun.
I am going to be on the Emmaus UK Assembly planning team this year, which is an annual event that welcomes members from Emmaus communities to attend a two day residential conference. The Assembly is made up of workshops and talks, and gives people in Emmaus the opportunity to meet each other and discuss how their community works. It is something that I’ve always wanted to do, and I am excited to see what is happening in the federation office. It will be a nice feeling seeing the Assembly take place after helping to plan it.
With the help of Emmaus I have gained more self-confidence and a new perspective on life. I consider the companions at both the Salford and Hertfordshire communities as part of my family now.
Emmaus is whatever you chose it to be and I’m grateful for the opportunities that continue to be offered to me. To all the people who support Emmaus I say keep up the good work – you’re helping us a lot and we’re really thankful for what you are doing."