Neil's story

Neil

I’ve been at Emmaus Colchester since the beginning of August 2016. Before moving in, I had a job as a carpenter in a theatre in London. However, I developed a condition that caused both my hands to close in on themselves, and it got increasingly difficult for me to continue working – I just couldn’t hold the scenery any more.

During that time, I also broke up with my partner and soon had nowhere to live. I was sofa surfing at friends’ houses for a while, but when that came to an end I decided to head for Mersea Island; there was a beautiful bit that I’d always wanted to paint. While I’ve always loved painting, and I consider myself to be an artist, I realised I couldn’t live off of it… but I would paint in the day, and I slept on the beach for four nights. It was late July so the weather was kind during the day but at night, especially when it rained, it wasn’t the best. I registered with Colchester Council as being homeless and I was put on a waiting list. I knew I was wasn’t going to come off of that list so I sought advice from Shelter, who referred me back to the council. That time, though, they told me about Emmaus – and fortunately I was able to move in shortly after.

Emmaus has allowed me to fix my hands, build up my confidence and address my debts – I had got into quite a bit of debt having not worked. I enjoy the social aspects and the people; I have friends here, so I no longer feel isolated. I’m really grateful to the staff for allowing me to exhibit my artwork in March. Having studied at Central School of Art and Design and then Manchester Met Uni, I’ve always been loved painting. The exhibition will focus on landscapes of Colchester, Mersea Island and other more. I’m looking forward to welcoming people to our community and letting them take explore how I view the local area.