Joe's story

Joe Stewart

Before I came to Emmaus Oxford I hung around with the wrong crowd for years. I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing and ended up on the wrong side of the law. When I came out of prison in 2017, I had nowhere to live and could easily have ended up on the streets. That was when I found out about the charity. The probation service brought me down to meet the guys at Emmaus; I had an interview and thankfully they offered me a place. I haven’t looked back since.

My life changed in many ways since coming to Emmaus Oxford. I’m a big framed chap and a lot of people often feel intimidated by me, but coming to Emmaus was different; they saw me for who I really am. People were honest and genuine towards me and I loved that.

Before coming to Emmaus I was very emotionally isolated. Living with such a mix of people made a big difference. Everyone is learning to live together, but there’s lots of support on offer and it is a very nurturing place. Emmaus is like one big family really, trying to work as a team. It really helped me to find that sense of community and belonging which was missing from my old life.

My role within Emmaus was to assist the van driver with collecting and delivering furniture for our charity store. I like to be out meeting people and I’m also a very practical person so I enjoyed the physical work of loading and unloading the van too. I would wake up in the morning and really enjoy each day. I also loved the fact that when we'd deliver an item that a customer had purchased, the money generated was channelled back into the charity. It made me feel very much a part of the Emmaus community – the work I did helped keep us all going.

What I like about Emmaus is they take a piece of furniture that maybe nobody wants and give it a second chance at life. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In the same way, they do that for people too. Emmaus takes time to see beneath the surface and see the beauty in people. 

The team embraced me and helped me to nurture my inner talents. They encouraged me to work hard and helped me develop as a person. If I hadn’t found Emmaus, there’s a chance that I’d have gone back to my old way of living, and ended up back in prison.

I recently felt ready to move on from Emmaus, relocating to supported housing. I now spend my time volunteering to help people who are struggling with addictions – from teens to adults. I also do motivational talks to share my story with younger people. I want to inspire them, be a role model for them and try to deter them from a delinquent lifestyle.

If I can change my life then other people can too. Emmaus has given me a new start at life, and I’ll always be grateful for their support.