When I was about nine or 10 I started boarding school. I went with my brother, so it wasn’t too daunting, and then, when I switched to another school further away, I was with my second cousins so I knew what to expect.
After I finished school I went back to the area where I grew up and started working for BOCM as a computer terminal operator in their animal feed plant. I met a girl, got married and we lived quite happily together for seven years. We had three sons and everything seemed fine, until I lost my job.
I worked very long hours at the plant, and part of the culture of working long hours was going to the pub afterwards to blow off steam. I also refereed in the local football league in my spare time, which meant more socialising. My wife felt that drinking was overtaking my work and she blamed me for being laid off, whereas I felt that it was more of a ‘last in, first out’ kind of decision by the management. This caused big problems between us and I had to leave, as we lived in a shared council house.
I stayed in the local area so that I could still see my boys, and started work with a vehicle rental firm. At this point I met my second wife, who was 13 years younger than me. We had a son, and stayed together for the next 11 years.
At that time I was working for the local dial-a-ride service, which meant that I was often on call until late at night. I’ve often been told that I get too involved with work, to the detriment of my health and personal life, and when I work too much, I drink too much. It becomes a bit of a cycle.
I ended up becoming involved with one of the other employees at dial-a-ride, which not only led to the breakdown of my relationship with my wife, but meant that I was asked to leave my job. I stayed with friends for a while, but through the summer I started sleeping rough. I filled my days by going to libraries and parks and listening to the radio.
I was still drinking, though I had cut down considerably. I spent some time in a hostel, then a shared house and I got a new job working as a security guard in a large supermarket, but my licence did not pass their vetting process and I lost the job and then my flat, and was back to square one. Luckily, some of my homeless friends mentioned Emmaus and I moved in to Emmaus Hampshire on my birthday, 4 March 2011.
Since then I have become a ‘responsible companion’. This means I help welcome new companions, and look after the place on a weekend or evening, locking up and keeping an eye on things. I have enjoyed my time at Emmaus, and haven’t been at all phased by giving up alcohol.
Moving on will happen, but it’s a case of finding the right job to go to, I don’t want to hurry anything while I am still learning things here.