If it wasn’t for Emmaus I don’t know where I’d be right now; I would probably be dead.
I didn’t have the best start and my family life was complex. I had a difficult childhood. My mum did her best; she had two jobs and was studying. With four children she struggled to find time for us.
Mum and dad ended up splitting up when I was still quite young so I never felt like I had a proper family unit. I used to drink a lot, hanging out with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble. At age 15 I was given a 10 month stint in a place for young offenders, for fighting and a couple of street robberies. When I came out, I didn’t really have a place to go so I lived with my brother for a few years.
At 21 I found a job as a pot washer, which led to a cooking job. I enjoyed it but the hours kept getting longer and before I knew it I was struggling to work 80 hours a week. That’s when I started to rely on using a class A drug to get by, which quickly turned into addiction. My dependence worsened every day for five years. Eventually I couldn’t afford the transport to work because I’d spent all my money on drugs. On my 25th birthday it all came crashing down: I lost my job, my home and my girlfriend.
I was homeless for three years and mainly slept in a tent in the woods. It was very hard at first but after a while it started to feel normal. Every day I would to wake up and go to the local library to have a wash. Then I’d spend my day going round the supermarkets, stealing meat and other small things to sell or eat. I’d steal alcohol too, get really drunk and then each night I’d walk around in the pitch black trying to find somewhere to sleep where no-one could spot me; I felt safer when I was hidden.
One day just before Christmas I came back to find my tent and belongings completely destroyed. Someone had set them on fire and everything was gone. It kind of tipped me over the edge and my sense of safety was gone. It was then that I tried to commit suicide. I was found by a dog walker who called an ambulance. I ended up getting referred to a crisis team who specialise in supporting people at risk. They told me about Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland and thankfully, I decided to get in touch.
Living in Emmaus is rewarding but it can also be challenging as there are many different personalities all living under one roof. I try not to judge anybody because everyone has their own story and we all come from different backgrounds.
Working is good because it keeps you busy; the routine helps to keep your mind focused. I’ve worked in various roles since I arrived at Emmaus. I used to help out on our van service, delivering and collecting stock for the charity shops. At the moment I help to sort through the donated items that people bring in, putting them out on the shop floor.
Right now I’m taking the time to work on myself. There’s no time limit for how long I can stay here and the Emmaus team are really helpful. They’ve encouraged me to join an addiction support group to help me stay clean. Emmaus is paying for me to get my first passport and hopefully my driving license too. I definitely want to get back into employment and Emmaus is going to support me to get my Construction Skills Certification so I can head towards a job in construction.
I don’t want an extravagant life: I want to be clean, I want a job and I want a home. I can’t change the past but with the support of Emmaus I feel that I can change my future and I’m looking forward to doing just that.