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 has 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 here was different; they see me for who I really am. People here are honest and genuine towards me and I love that.

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

My role within Emmaus is 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 enjoy the physical work of loading and unloading the van too. I wake up in the morning and I really enjoy what I do. I also love the fact that when we deliver an item that a customer has purchased, the money generated is channelled back into the charity. It makes me feel very much a part of the Emmaus community – the work I do helps keep us all going.

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

The team here have embraced me and helped me to nurture my inner talents. They have encouraged me to work hard and helped me develop as a person. I’m currently having driving lessons and  I’m really hoping to pass my test soon. I have also been considering my future and what I want to do after Emmaus. I’m thinking about applying to be a motivational speaker. I believe that I have a story to share and I would like to be able to help someone who doesn’t see any hope. 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. If I can change my life then other people can too. Emmaus has given me a new start at life; I’ve been refurbished.