I got involved in the wrong crowd from a young age and I was definitely a challenging kid. When I left school I did an apprenticeship and qualified as a floor layer. I liked the work but I was rubbing shoulders with the wrong lads and got involved in organised crime.
My life became a back and forth between work and then getting into trouble and having to move away. Most of the time I had accommodation but there were periods when I ended up sleeping rough. When this happened I made sure I was hidden from view and I found a place to sleep that was tucked away. Once I had a narrow escape when I was sleeping in a skip full of cardboard - they came to empty it and I had to quickly jump out!
That life finished one day when I was badly assaulted. I was in hospital for a week while I recovered. It was then that I made the decision to move far away from my hometown and change my life completely. A life of crime just isn’t worth it and I wanted to start again. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but I think if I hadn’t made that choice, I could easily not be alive today.
With nowhere to live, I spent a few weeks sleeping in homeless shelters. I never begged for money but I was near breaking point. Then I found out about Emmaus and applied to join the community in Coventry so I could be nearer to where my kids live. I had an interview and thankfully they gave me a place; a local charity paid for my train fare to travel down here and I’ve never looked back.
I love it here. The biggest things Emmaus has given me are safety and routine. I’ve got a place to live and I now have a purpose each day. If you’re wanting to change then Emmaus is the place to come. It’s the place that gives you a second chance. The support you get at Emmaus makes a big difference. It’s not just the staff – some of the lads here are really good if you’re feeling down or having a bad day. There’s definitely a sense of community.
I’ve worked in all sorts of roles since I’ve been here – I’ve helped to run the charity shop and on the vans collecting and delivering furniture. I enjoy being out on the van because it’s hard work but you meet new people and each day goes really quickly.
I have weekly guitar lessons at Coventry College which I enjoy; I’m learning the basic skills and I like to watch online videos in my spare time to teach myself much more. I’ve also just started my NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care, which will be great for my CV.
Being part of this community has changed the way I think and behave; it’s helped me stay on the straight and narrow. Looking to the future, I really want to be a support worker. I want to help people who’ve had similar experiences to me. I think people would relate to me because I’ve done crime, I’ve done prison, I’ve been homeless and – thanks to Emmaus - I’ve come out the other side.