Two years ago, we shared a story from a companion at Emmaus Bristol – Dapper Dave – and we now have a very exciting update.

Longtime supporters may recall Dave’s story, which you can read here. Dave joined Emmaus Bristol in August 2019 after becoming homeless at 62. Before this, Dave struggled with years of depression following the passing of his parents and two children. It became hard for Dave to hold down a job and he eventually received two months’ notice on his flat, forcing him to spend a month sleeping in a tent.

Now, after nearly four years at Emmaus Bristol, Dave has moved out to live independently and continues to volunteer in our shops three days a week. We had a chat with Dave to find out more about his experience at Emmaus, his new home and why he is giving back by volunteering…

Time at Emmaus

The biggest thing Emmaus Bristol has given me is my self-esteem and confidence back. Before Emmaus, I didn’t really care about myself, was really badly depressed, and was on antidepressants. Emmaus got me over that and gave me a reason to live. I’m not on medication now at all and I haven’t been for a long while. Last year, I was even able to work on what would have been the birthdays of my two boys. I do get the funny day every so often, but I know it’s nothing to worry about because I have a reason to carry on.

New home

I moved to Brunelcare in June and have a studio flat. My plan for the first two weeks was to get my flat up and running, but I still have things in boxes. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day! I bought my microwave and kettle from Emmaus Bristol and a lot of the stuff I’ve bought over the years like my pictures, ornaments, and anything pink or tigers, are all from Emmaus too. I’m on a 12-month contract and if everything goes okay, my next one will be for life so I will have a long-term home.

Giving back to Emmaus

I wanted to volunteer at Emmaus Bristol because I can never, ever repay them for what they’ve done for me. This is just a small way of helping them because they’ve helped me, and I can’t thank them enough. I usually volunteer in the Stokes Croft shop and the Bedminster shop every other Saturday, but I go wherever I’m needed. When I’m in Stokes Croft, I always go into the office to have a laugh and giggle with the staff, just like I used to as a Companion.

Emmaus highlight

Something that won’t be topped from my time at Emmaus Bristol is going to Clarence House and meeting Terry Waite and Camilla. I was shaking when it was my turn to talk to Camilla, I was meeting royalty! I had taken my hat off and her first words to me were, ‘I have been admiring your hat from the other room’. It broke the ice straight away and we were then chatting for around five minutes.

If people do find themselves in the situation that I was in, and they are given the opportunity to join Emmaus, I would say go for it. Grab that opportunity because no matter what, you’ll come out of it a lot better. Someone else might not have the same experiences I had, and I consider myself really lucky, but things will be better than they were. If you want to improve yourself and need help, it’s there for you at Emmaus.

Support Emmaus

I think people should support Emmaus Bristol because they do such a good job. It’s a brilliant organisation and it’s not only the people in this country that benefit, but all over the world. Recently we’ve helped with the Turkey and Syria earthquake appeal and getting clean water for a community in India. We do what we can for others because everyone has a right to safe housing and water. All I can say is thank you very much, Abbé Pierre. If it hadn’t been for him, Emmaus wouldn’t exist.

I have always remembered important dates that are special to me and there’s one date I will never forget – 5th August 1912. This was the date Abbé Pierre was born and on 5th August 2019, what would have been his 107th birthday, I joined Emmaus Bristol. I think it was meant to be.

Emmaus Bristol and the dedicated staff, thank you for what you’ve done for me.

If you have been inspired by Dave’s move on story and would like to support our current and future companions, please consider making a donation.