A marital breakup led me to becoming homeless in 2020. I’d say the COVID pandemic, when it struck, didn’t help with my marriage. After becoming homeless, I was just roaming from brother to brother, sister to sister – sofa-surfing as they call it.

My Jobcentre claims manager kept asking me if I’d found a place to live. She asked me if I’d thought about getting into a hostel, but I thought I was better than a hostel – I’d come from a good family, I was a married man with kids and a house. At the time, because of COVID, no one was entertaining anyone so there weren’t many housing options. Eventually, the claims manager gave my number to another organisation and after a couple of phone calls, they put me in touch with Emmaus Merseyside.

I joined Emmaus in June 2021. It was awkward and strange when I first moved in. I had to take a step back to fit in and adapt to the new situation of living in a community home. I thought it’d be better if I took my time to fit in, rather than thinking I knew this, I knew that. I took a step back to see how the other companions lived and worked together.

Gaining trust and responsibility

For the first couple of months, I worked in the yard at the Superstore, making sure it was clean and maintaining a safe and pleasant place to work in. I got on with the work and if someone asked me to help, I did. The work I was doing was getting complimented on and gradually I proved I could do as much as the next person. It was all about using my own initiative and if I wasn’t sure of something, I could ask someone.

I now have more responsibility, working inside the Superstore, serving customers and on the tills. If someone said to me when I first came that I’d be handling cash, I’d have said ‘I don’t think so’. I’ve had to work for that trust and responsibility. It’s brilliant – it’s about making sure the shop runs smoothly and customers are happy.

It’s not a freebee living here: you have to work so the community can run and we can put food on our table. That shop is our bread and butter. It’s no good having butter if you’ve got no bread. Without a foundation, you’ve got nothing. Without our shop, we’ve got no money and without money, we’ve got no community home and without the home, there is no Emmaus Merseyside. The shop allows us to keep a roof over our head and gives us stability.

A focus on the future

Being at Emmaus has helped me focus more. I’ve now got more to gain than I have to lose.  During the day, I’m in the Emmaus world but from half-past four, I’m free to do what I want. I do a lot of cycling and it’s another focus of mine. I’m about to order a new bike with help from the Emmaus Companion Training Fund.

At Emmaus, we’re all given the same rules and know they’re important to help keep the community stable. We’ve all got different problems in life but here we’re supporting each other as best we can. Hopefully, we can achieve a lot, as individuals and a community, as we’re a good team. We work well and get on well – you can have a laugh and a joke. Together, we can do it and it’s all about having a good team.

To people thinking about joining Emmaus; grab the opportunity and enjoy your time here – make the most of it. Try the best you can and be the best you can be.