My life has been pretty straightforward really. I had a happy childhood, I had happy relationships – I have great kids. My story isn’t a sob story, it’s just a story of what happens when relationships break down.
I met my first partner through some friends when I was in my late twenties and we had three children together. I worked part time while I was bringing up my family, doing all sorts of things from dinner lady to shelf stacker. We split amicably after 13 years, he continued to support the children and we remained friends.
When my children were in their teens I got in touch with an old friend. He worked on the railways, and offered to get my son a job. Soon we all moved in together, and things were fine for a long time.
After 10 years that relationship broke down and I left. I walked out of the house and went to stay with my son and daughter-in-law. I couldn’t do that forever, though, and the local housing trust suggested that I look into living at Emmaus Brighton.
It was daunting at first, as Brighton and Hove has rooms for over 40 people and although there were other women it was hard to get to know everyone. I enjoyed it, though, because I have always worked and that is what I like about Emmaus, if you are out of work and living on your own it can be difficult to break out of a cycle. If you get benefits, you can’t work more than 16 hours, if you work more, you don’t always get paid enough to afford everything you need. At Emmaus I am looked after and I feel like I contribute.
I actually left Emmaus to go and live with someone I met in the community, but I couldn’t find work and after seven months of trying to make ends meet I came to Emmaus Hastings. I love it here, it’s smaller and more peaceful and I have been able to try my hand at working in the sorting office, where we decide what to do with donations, looking after the house, and in the shop. I don’t have any plans to leave at the moment. I see my mum and my children regularly and I am happy here.