I’m Stephen and I came to Emmaus Merseyside in June 2018. Emmaus has basically saved my life. If I was still on the streets I would have been doing the same old things and might not be here.
At first, I didn’t know if it was the right place for me. I wanted to walk away. I suppose it was because I was scared of what I was facing. I didn’t really have a plan in my head because normally I just walk away from things. For some reason I stayed.
I’ve given up class A drugs after 37 years. I thought I wanted to get off the drugs for a long time but it was about finding a balance in my head and getting where I needed to be. When I’d already had my fix and was feeling OK in my mind I’d think ‘I hate this, I’ll get off it tomorrow’. But when tomorrow came, I’d feel rough so I’d start again.
Before I came to Emmaus, I was in jail for 13 and a half months. I was going out shoplifting and getting money to survive. I’d get my dole and by the time the morning came I’d end up skint so I’d have to graft. For whatever reason, every time I came out of jail I found it easier to go and sit with drinkers rather than with those who go to work and do normal things. That just didn’t fit in with my life. I know this area, I drank here 35 years ago when it was a club. It seems funny coming back here all these years later to live here for different reasons.
It took me a month to settle down, get used to people and get to know how they work. When I was locked up it took away my confidence but being at Emmaus made me feel better about myself. Being friends with people I can speak to who aren’t on drugs helps keep me safe and clean. I thought living in a house with 20 odd other people would be a challenge, but somehow it works and it’s a big part of my life. Now, I’m learning to speak to people who just do normal things. I’ve got a good relationship with everyone here at Emmaus. These companions are like a family to me now.
While I’ve been here I’ve been involved with maintaining the garden. I used to go out in the garden for myself, to get away. Now I do it for the house and the community because I see the good it’s doing. Here, I have a focus each day. Keeping busy is important to me. I like it when people go past and they see the work I’ve done on the garden. It makes me feel proud.
I’m getting a bit older now so I have to think about things a bit more. I’m actually thinking about my plans for the future and reality. When I’ve been out of jail and clean for 12 months I’ll be confident about looking to the future then. I’ll have done well and proved something to my family. I’ve never been clean for this long in my life. It would be great to get the garden looking good and then move into employment. Now, I want to do things right. I never thought I’d be sitting here talking about driving vans and other jobs at Emmaus but they’re things I want to do. They’re new opportunities and I’m learning different things.
I would have to make sure I get my head worked out right for when I leave. I know I’m safe here at Emmaus because we have support if we need someone to speak to. Personally, I’ve found it hard speaking to staff because I’m quite a private person and some of the things I’ve done I regret for a lot of reasons but if they ask me something I’ve got no problem answering them.
In my eyes, Emmaus Merseyside has done me the world of good. I like being here now. I have my moments, but the reality is another day is just around the corner. My message to others going through hard times is keep trying, eventually you’ll get there. I don’t feel like I’m quite there yet, but I feel like things are getting better.