I spent all my life working hard in very good positions for very good companies. I had travelled all over and to the outside world I was living a great life and doing some amazing things.

This was true to a certain extent, but beneath it there was a different person: someone who was struggling with keeping up with this persona and eventually this led to me having problems with alcohol. It didn’t just interfere with my working life; it had harsh consequences in my personal life too. I walked away from employment as I could see that my personal issues were obvious and my depression levels had hit rock bottom. This was the beginning of problems that I never thought I would ever face: surely it couldn’t happen to me, but it did.

I was privately renting when I walked away from the job. A combination of not working and very limited availability of other flats led to me being homeless.

I called my local council offices every day, asking for help to find accommodation, but my status left me outside of any immediate assistance. One day someone mentioned an organisation that might be able to help. It was to be a successful meeting as they referred me to Emmaus Village Carlton.

Finding Emmaus

There was so much that Emmaus had to offer. It became an ideal opportunity for myself to solve more than just my homeless problem: I got help and support for other underlying problems that had been an obstacle for quite some time.

I have the chance to work every day, which for me is something that really appealed. I like working and the sense of self-worth that comes with it. The jobs that I do are completely different from anything that I’ve done in my past career and so adjusting to new tasks and responsibilities was challenging, but ultimately enjoyable. It’s hard work, but without the stress that I would once have been putting myself under. I even achieved getting my forklift truck license, which is something I never thought I’d do, but in fact took great pleasure in.

Living at Emmaus is great and the bond forged with the other companions is vital to my progress. I’d been alone for a very long time before I came to Emmaus, but eventually I realised just how important it is to have people around, to chat to and enjoy free time with. The stability that I get from being around like-minded people is something that the other companions might not have realised that they give me, but is something I will always be thankful for.

The support from Emmaus staff, whether that be in structured support work or just someone to lean on sometimes, also adds to that sense of stability. If there is something in the back of my mind, they are always there for me. I feel comfortable to open up when needed.

Giving back

A couple of years ago I felt ready to move on and was thrilled when I landed my dream job as a Rough Sleeper Case Worker, working with people who are homeless in Bedford. I was excited to be part of a team which acts as a point of contact for people who are homeless. It gave me a chance to give something back: to give people hope and show them there’s a way out and that someone does care.

After a year I moved to work for another scheme in Luton, in a similar role. However, it’s well known within the sector that after a couple of years in this sort of job, the emotional demands take their toll and people tend to move on to something else. After two years, this was my experience too. I felt like I didn’t have the same energy that I used to have; it got increasingly challenging.

I decided a complete change was necessary and I got a job in a warehouse, using the forklift license I obtained whilst at Emmaus. I then trained as an LLOP (Low Level Order Picker) truck driver, which is a more advanced forklift qualification. For six months, everything was great, and then just after Christmas, all the LLOP drivers were let go.

Emmaus is always there for me

I tried to find more warehouse work but the Christmas rush was over, so demand was low. I started looking for work in sectors I’d been in previously, such as inventory control and business analysis, but no-one was hiring. I wasn’t able to pay my rent and so got back in touch with Emmaus Village Carlton, who offered me a place quite quickly.

It’s great to be back because I’m able to continue working in the community. I’m also amongst friends again – something I’d missed over the previous two years.

Emmaus is always there for me, and I’ll always be grateful for its continued support, whatever happens next.