Two years ago I had all the trimmings - a house, money in the bank, a car – then I lost it all.
It all started when a series of things happened to me, in a short space of time - I lost my job and experienced a personal bereavement. Money trouble and a relationship break-up all snowballed into the need to seek solace in something. I chose alcohol. It buried me deeper in the sand and before I knew it everything had slipped.
My lead-up to homelessness was a process that started gently – I felt I could almost tread water for a while, but once it started, there was no going back. It got awfully slippery, and fast.
I went from years of working towards getting a place of my own and owning all those material things, to losing my home and only having a few belongings left. Before I knew it, I was on the streets.
When I found myself homeless, I ended up sleeping in the back of my car. It was dry and it was safer than sleeping on the streets but it was no home.
I spent Christmas with the Winter Night Shelter. I saw people giving up their Christmas Days to bring food down to people they had never met. It was a bit of a surprise, but all of a sudden you realise that someone does actually care. It does make a difference, especially because you can feel yourself becoming isolated from everything.
I had never heard of Emmaus before meeting a previous companion at an outreach centre in Dover. As far as I knew, once you were on the streets that was it. I was pointed in the direction of Emmaus Dover and I’ve not looked back. I now have meaningful work, I’m well fed and I have a roof over my head. I have stability.
I enjoy my job at the community. I look after the garden onsite two days a week, growing flowers and vegetables that are sold to raise money for the community, or used for meals for the other companions. For three days of the week, I work off-site with two Emmaus customers as a solidarity placement that brings money into the community. This is good because I’m able to meet a lot of people and it gives me the chance to interact with the general public.
For me, Emmaus Dover is like a stepping stone that will support me until I’m ready to move on. Emmaus gives you the time to calm down and slowly but surely look towards the future. You can stay on that stepping stone for as long as you want, and not be rushed or pushed through the system. Everyone is an individual here and they work to give each person a purpose in life. Emmaus has given me the opportunity to get back into the world, and I’m very grateful.