Paul's story

St Martins companion Paul Hand and customer catch up 131128  2

One of the main ways I like to contribute to life at Emmaus Dover is by going out and speaking to groups and people in the community who want to find out more about what we do. I find that sharing my story helps people to understand the things that Emmaus can offer.

I lived with my parents and looked after them both until they passed away. My dad had lung cancer, and my mum suffered from Krohn’s disease, so I gave up my work as a team leader at Tesco and looked after them full time as their sole carer.

It was tough, but it was even harder when they died. I felt that they had chosen to leave me behind. I was asked to leave our home, and I really felt that I had nowhere to go. I stayed with friends for a while, but I had no other close family and I was embarrassed to outstay my welcome.

I actually stayed in a cemetery for about 18 months, I just tucked myself out of the way, because by that point I was drinking a lot. I was drinking to get to sleep, I was drinking to keep going, I was drinking to keep my sadness away.

One day an outreach worker came and asked me if I’d heard of Emmaus, and I made my way here via a night shelter. It was good for me initially because Emmaus is a ‘dry’ site – I was able to bring my alcohol use back down to reasonable levels and now I’m no longer dependent. I can drink responsibly, and I even helped organise an ‘Irish night’ last year with Irish food, music and whiskey!

I often work in the shop in Canterbury, which I enjoy, but the hardest part of that is seeing the Jobcentre across the road. Thirty people will queue outside and come out empty handed. I am secure at Emmaus, I’m learning new things and I am in good company, so I think I’ll sit tight for a while.