They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that’s so true with homeless people. Having been homeless myself, I know that homelessness can affect anybody. Everyone you see on the street has got a story and every story is different.
My life was out of control. I was in my late twenties and was drinking a lot. I took drugs too, because I was unhappy. My girlfriend was really supportive and has been there for me throughout, but I think a lot of the issues for me were caused by housing. I was stuck living in rented accommodation – in shared houses with other people who had similar issues. I think that had a negative effect on me; it was hard to change when everyone around me was doing the same.
I was trapped in a vicious cycle. I knew I should try to find a job, but had nowhere to live. Sleeping on the streets was so difficult; I felt so sad every day. I rested where I could – mainly in doorways. I didn’t even have clothes to wear if I got a job interview. I’d gone so long without working that I eventually forgot about work.
I felt like I was stuck in a rut - knowing deep down that I needed to change, but not knowing where to find people who might help. My confidence was at an all-time low. I shunned my family and friends and I was spiralling down, cutting myself off from the world; it was a really bad place to be in.
The turning point for me was waking up one day and feeling absolutely shattered inside. I remember feeling that I really wanted to work and feel good again. Thank God I eventually met the right people and I got the right help. Homeless outreach workers brought me to Emmaus; I looked round, met the people and liked it straight away. I moved in the following week, and I have been happy ever since.
At Emmaus, I now live with like-minded positive people who are taking it step-by-step to improve themselves, and we’re also giving a little bit back to help others too. I’m not around the drink and I’m not around drugs. I’ve been clean for over three years now. I don’t want drink or drugs – I want to put a good day’s work in, to add to my CV, to go to college for training. It’s like they say – you can give them a fish if they’re hungry, but if you teach them how to fish, that’s better. Emmaus are putting me through my bricklaying qualifications. I’ve done my first year and I’m just about to start my Level 2 NVQ. I’m also learning to drive at the moment so that when I’m qualified, I can start looking for jobs. When I find work, I’ll be able to live in one of the move-on flats in the community for a few months, and then the light at the end of the tunnel will be to move in with my girlfriend – now my fiancée - and get married.
When I think back, I had nothing, and now I’ve got my life back. I’ve got a fiancée, I’ve got friends, I’ve got my family and my confidence is building up again – it’s just amazing. We see people at Emmaus who, when they first arrive their confidence is at rock-bottom, but within three months they are flying – they are thinking of all the different avenues they can take their life down – that’s what has happened to me. It’s only thanks to the support I’ve received from Emmaus, family and friends, that I now have hope. I have built my life again; I can do anything and I won’t look back.