Life at Emmaus Glasgow suits me just fine. I have my own room at the end of the corridor, it’s nice and quiet, tucked away from most of the other lads. I can go into my room, shut the door and head off to sleep nice and early, and get up nice and early too. I have my own space and my own pace, and that is important to me.
I am in my sixties now, but I still enjoy working. In Glasgow I have two roles – driving the vans for collections and deliveries, and restoring the furniture. I really love rubbing the pieces down by hand and then smoothing on the layer of beeswax to make the wood glow. Back when I started work I used to restore Harleys. The feeling of finding something broken down and bringing it back to life feels very similar to that first job.
I have always worked hard, but life took a couple of wrong turns, starting when my parents died. I stayed with them until the end, looking after them both. They met in an air raid shelter in Fulham when they were just 14, and they were never apart. After they passed away I was able to stay on in our home, but someone I knew needed a bigger place, so I agreed to swap to live in her flat.
What a mistake that was. I ended up falling out with a neighbour and things spiralled until I found myself homeless and living on the streets of London for a year and four days. I remember exactly how long it was. I went to the doctor as my health was deteriorating and I ended up getting another flat, but it was nowhere near anything I knew. I tried getting a job but I found that I couldn’t afford to go to work, I was better off on benefits.
I despaired of that life and I took myself off to Brighton where I slept in a hut on the beach for six weeks. It was at a day centre there that I found out about Emmaus. I was at Emmaus Hampshire first of all, which is where I started learning the carpentry skills that I’m using here in Glasgow and then I came here four years ago.
It makes me really proud when I manage to add value to the pieces we sell in the shop – the other day I saw something that I rescued from the scrap pile go for £170. That’s money that will help run our community and I am glad to be able to contribute.