I’m from Wigan originally but I’m now at Emmaus Mossley in Greater Manchester. I was homeless from 2001 to 2008, spending time in Blackpool, Manchester and London.
My marriage broke up in 2000 and it transpired that all I saw was the drink then. I didn’t see the end of it and it’s only with the help I’ve had that I’m where I am today. The turning point was when I was in a day-centre in London and my daughter said ‘where are you?’. Then I knew I had to sort my life out and I did, with the help of Emmaus.
I was told about Emmaus by someone in London and because my children live up north I wanted to get back there. I joined Emmaus Mossley in 2008 and do most jobs in here. I’m proud to say I’ve been a main figure on the café. We’ve built it up from nothing and it’s now become a meeting point for lots of people. I know 70% of my customers by name, they know me, I get their respect and give them respect back. I get on with people and 'am happy to be where I am today.
Working in the Emmaus Mossley social enterprise is comfortable and mostly very enjoyable. No one would ask you to do a job that you couldn’t do. We’re all asked to work within our capabilities and no pressure is put on you. If you can’t do what is asked then you speak to somebody and it can be sorted out. People will listen here and that’s one of the things I value about Emmaus.
Living here and being part of this community is good. It’s big enough that if you want to be on your own, you can – if you want to mingle, you can. Some Emmaus communities aren’t as big as this but in here, that’s a good benefit you’ve got. You’re not always going to get on with 26 people and sometimes people rub you up the wrong way but it gets sorted out and everyone seems to get on with one another.
Like anything in life, what you put in, you get back, and I can say honestly say this place has given me loads. It’s good when new companions join Emmaus and grasp the opportunity given to them. At Emmaus I’ve done quite a few courses including NVQ training, customer care, manual handling and food hygiene. When you’ve had a good day here it makes you feel good at the end of the day – it feels like you’re achieving something.
Looking to the future I’m set to become a grandad soon and would like to see my family more. I’m in a good place and although we divorced in 2000, my best friend is my ex-wife and we get on well now.
I’ve recently completed a 10k run/walk to raise money for a local charity – Oldham Mountain Rescue Team. Six of us took part in it and I was determined to complete it to prove to myself more than anything. I’ve done running in the past but I didn’t realise how hard it would be. Three years ago I was in a wheelchair due to alcoholism so to complete the challenge felt like a real achievement. It also felt good that we raised over £1,000 for a local good cause.
Thank you to everyone who supports Emmaus. As much as what you do for us we try to do for others. I’m on the solidarity group and we help lots of people and groups in many ways, for example the local food bank and low income families. I hope that we can repay what people do for us. We are so grateful for the support because without them we wouldn’t be here.