After 25 years on the streets, a formerly homeless man now works as a chef for the charity that helped him turn his life around and saved his life.
Tony is sharing his story on World Homeless Day (10 October) to thank Emmaus for transforming his life and giving him a future.
When Tony was 15 his parents and sister died following a gas explosion at home.
“I had no other family to go to and ended up living on the streets,” said Tony.
“For 25 years I didn’t have a home. I slept wherever I could: in hostels, in night shelters, in tents, under bridges and occasionally on friends’ sofas. At first people could see how young, vulnerable and scared I was so I used to get attacked a lot.
“I had to provide my own food, but without a job or qualifications I had to beg for money. Often my only option was to steal in order to survive.”
Things came to a head when Tony sought help for drug addiction. Once clean, he approached Emmaus Village Carlton who offered a home and support for as long as he needed it.
“They gave me accommodation, clothes and food, but unlike most other places they also gave me support and the chance to work,” explained Tony.
“Emmaus paid all my bills and I could focus on getting back on track. They made sure I was looking after myself and I could access counselling and training courses to learn new skills.”
During his time at Emmaus Village Carlton, Tony found the stability he needed to rebuild his life.
“I helped to run the bistro for about a year and then recently the bistro chef job came up and they encouraged me to apply for it,” said Tony.
“I was so pleased when I got the job. It’s a big step for me. Emmaus are paying for my Level 2 Diploma in Catering, as well as providing accommodation as I adjust to life with paid work and save some money.
“Two years ago, when I was homeless, I struggled to read and write; now I have a home, a job and I’m going to college.
“I owe Emmaus a lot; I’m employed by the organisation that saved my life and it means so much that people have faith in me.”
To find out more about Emmaus Village Carlton visit www.emmaus.org.uk/village-carlton