Peter's story

St Albans companion Peter Harris plays pool 131218

My story might seem like quite an ordinary one, really. I’m an only child, and I lived with my mum and dad until they both died, and then I found myself homeless.

I worked for many years – first in painting and decorating jobs, and then in catering, working at the big naval bases in my home town. Then my dad had a heart attack, and my mum’s diabetes got worse. I gave up my job to care for them full time. For more than two years, I did everything for them, and then suddenly, I was on my own. I felt like I had no one.

I was very angry and upset and I turned to alcohol to try and numb my feelings. I moved out of my bedsit, into night shelters and I carried on drinking. I blamed my parents for leaving me behind, it was a very lonely time.

I spent some time working for another charity, which paid me for the hours I did and provided showers and food, but it wasn’t a home.

Emmaus offers me security, and responsibility. I help to run the kitchen here, setting up the menu and deciding what goods we need to stock up on – as well as making all of the meals and keeping the kitchen shipshape. A recent survey of staff and companions rated my food 8.5/10, so I must be doing something right.

Before I came to St Albans, I spent some time at Village Carlton and then left to live with a lady friend. The relationship didn’t work out, and breaking up was really hard as I truly thought that I had found someone at last, but it turned out she wasn’t the right girl for me. The support I had to get through that break up was incredible, and the other thing that kept me going was throwing myself into solidarity work.

Last year, I helped to organise a collection of rucksacks, hats, gloves, scarves and more for something called The Rucksack Project. The founder’s story inspired me to help, and we managed to put together twenty bags filled with goods for people sleeping rough around St Albans. It’s the fact that Emmaus encouraged me to get involved that really makes me feel proud, and think that we must be on the right track.