I recently joined Emmaus Bristol after spending three and a half years at Emmaus Brighton, but I first discovered Emmaus back in 2009 when I spent a year at the community in Hampshire.

Back in 2009, I was in the process of tracing my biological parents. I had been searching for four years and found nothing. When I joined Emmaus Hampshire, the interim Community Leader searched and within three days she found my parents. I moved to Brighton to live with them and then spent 10 years caring for them because they both had severe mental health issues. Eventually, it got to the point that I started to struggle with depression myself and couldn’t care for them, which led me to make a self-referral to Emmaus Brighton, where I stayed for over three years.

I’ve now settled in well at Emmaus Bristol. I already knew a companion from Emmaus Brighton here, so that helped a great deal. It’s a lot smaller here than Emmaus Brighton too, which has 57 companions. Being in a smaller community has made it a lot easier for me to manage my social anxiety. Out of the 17 current companions at Emmaus Bristol, there is no one I don’t get on with. With my social anxiety, I’m never the one to start a conversation, but it’s been so welcoming here. Recently we had a group of school children visit to learn about Emmaus and myself and another companion answered all their questions. That was a big one for me – I would have never done anything like that before! Sir Terry Waite was there too – he’s quite a nice bloke!  

During my time at all three Emmaus communities, I have really valued the work aspect Emmaus provides. It’s the biggest thing Emmaus has given me – a reason to get up in the morning. With my depression, I could sleep for 16 hours a day and do nothing. At Emmaus, I’ve got a reason to get up and something to do where at the end of the day, I think, do you know what? I’ve done something instead of wasting a day.

At Emmaus, I prefer doing customer-facing roles like working in the shops and going out on the van to collect furniture. I had done retail work before, but I’ve still learnt so much at Emmaus like manual handling, talking to customers and dealing with complaints.  Emmaus offers loads of training too and I’ve done my Warehouse and Storage Level 3, Customer Service Level 3, First Aid at Work Level 3, and Fire Warden training – I’ve done quite a bit! I’m looking to start a college course in coding while I’m at Emmaus Bristol. That’s what’s needed nowadays, and the Support Team at Emmaus Bristol is helping to get that moving for me.