"I'm just happy being here helping others."
In December Emmaus Merseyside welcomed former Emmaus Mossley companion Bruce as a new Support Worker.
As a Support Worker Bruce is on hand to create a supportive environment for companions that helps them overcome any challenges they may have. He also lives on site to ensure that he is available at all times, which is testament to his character.
Since joining Emmaus Merseyside Bruce has supported a number of companions with their mental health. “I’d argue that a lot of people have become homeless as a result of mental health problems. A lot of people slip through the net and don’t get the support they vitally need. Then of course you’ve got those who struggle with their mental health after becoming homeless. The stresses and strains homelessness places on someone are massive, so it doesn’t surprise me that people develop mental health problems.”
Bruce is pleased to see more attention given to mental health, but stresses that more has to be done: “mental health is very much on the agenda at the moment, which is great because it’s helping to raise awareness and enabling people to get help. However, although things are now progressing we still have to capitalise on the momentum and make sure we continue to breakdown the stigma attached to homeless people with mental health problems. People are still looked down upon on the streets, which is wrong. It has to change.”
Six months on, Bruce describes how he’s found the move from companion to staff member.
“The first few months have been a really enjoyable rollercoaster of emotions. Yes, there have been stressful times, but overall it’s been a fantastic experience because I’ve been learning something new every day.”
“Before I became a Support Worker I’d spent 14 happy years at Emmaus Mossley as a companion. In that time Emmaus helped me to completely turn my life around. I’d plunged to the depths of addiction, but thanks to the supportive structure in place at the community, I came out the other side.”
Bruce was interested in the role as soon as he saw it advertised. “I’ve always been an empathetic person. I’ve always had that feeling of wanting to help those in society that have been marginalised, especially after being there myself.”
He also took inspiration from the founder of the Emmaus movement, Abbé Pierre, “I remember reading a quote once from him that said: ‘many small drips a river make, many small rivers an ocean makes’. I wake up each morning looking forward to work, and I go to bed with knowing I’ve made a difference to someone’s life, which is an incredible feeling.”
Looking forward, Bruce is pleased to be a part of a supportive structure at Emmaus: “it’s been such a whirlwind six months, but I’m just happy to be here doing what I do best, helping others. Let’s be honest, life would be boring if it was easy.”