Tuesday 14 November 2017

“I would have ended up dying on the streets” - Sean's story


During Alcohol Awareness Week (13 – 19 November) one companion shares his story...

Sean Cullinane (56) became homeless to escape a difficult relationship:

It was a turbulent eight years; I chose to leave and ended up living on the streets to avoid the alcohol-fuelled abuse.”

Having developed a drinking problem, sleeping rough was an extremely difficult experience:

I was on the streets for about six months, occasionally sleeping on friends’ sofas, but I was still struggling with my alcohol addiction. I could have gone to family and friends and got help from them, but the drinking was ruining everything I did, so I continued to sleep on the streets and continued to abuse the alcohol.”

After around two years of homelessness, Sean found himself in trouble with the police for theft of alcohol and food from a shop. A police officer suggested he approach a local organisation which specialised in supporting people with addiction:

“I asked them for help and they told me about the homelessness charity Emmaus. I did a two-week detox in hospital and I was then interviewed by staff at Emmaus Cambridge. I moved in two days later and I was at that community for four years, before moving on to live at Emmaus Village Carlton.”

Emmaus Village Carlton supports 42 formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to regain lost self-esteem to help rebuild their lives. Funds are raised through our Home Store charity shop and bistro in Carlton, with local people donating unwanted items for resale.

Now living without alcohol, Sean is being supported by Emmaus Village Cartlon to re-establish his confidence. He helps serving charity shop customers and also works driving vehicles and in the warehouse sorting donations:

Emmaus has given me purpose and structure. I feel safe and I love doing the work we do because I know it’s very important. Of all the things I have done in my 56 years, I don’t think I have felt as powerful as I do when I get out of bed here each morning. I’m helping to raise funds so I’m actually helping other people who have gone through homelessness too, and that’s an amazing thing to be able to do.”

Sean is extremely grateful to Emmaus, and now has hope for a brighter future:

They saved my life; if I hadn’t done my detox and come to Emmaus I would probably have ended up dying on the streets. My family and friends can see the effect it has had on me; I’m turning my life around and am extremely happy.”

If you have been inspired by Sean’s story and want to help, contact us to find out how you can get involved. It can be as simple as donating your unwanted furniture, old clothing or bric-a-brac, or picking up a bargain at our Home Store, enabling us to continue our vital work with homeless people across Bedfordshire.