From alcohol abuser to community trouble-shooter: charity helps middle-aged  homeless man to get off the streets and feel 'powerful' again

  • Sean was homeless for two years, following the break-down of an eight-year relationship
  • The police recommended him to a charity to try and deal with his alcohol addiction, after Sean turned to crime
  • Sean was then interviewed for a place at a charity's Cambridge community 
  • The former homeless man has lived and worked in the community for more than four years

Written by Callum Patterson for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 11:00, 22nd Sep 2017 | UPDATED: 16:27, 26th Sep 2017

Turbulent

Sean was homeless for two years before moving into Emmaus' Cambridge community

‘I became homeless following a relationship breakdown,’ Sean recalls, speaking to the Emmaus website. ‘It was a turbulent relationship which lasted for eight years before ending in alcohol-fuelled abuse. In the end, I had to leave and choose to be on the streets.' 

Sean spent two years homeless in southern England. He either slept rough on the streets or on friends’ sofas, and struggled with an alcohol addiction.

Turning to crime to feed himself and his alcoholism, Sean found himself in trouble with the police. An officer recommended Sean to a charity called Addaction whom he thought may be able to help the homeless man reduce his alcohol intake.

Addaction suggested that Sean attempt to get a space in an Emmaus community – a charity-run safe space which offers homeless people a place to live and work, for as long as they need it. 

Trouble-Shooter

Following a two-week detox in hospital, Sean was interviewed by staff at Emmaus Cambridge and moved into the community there two days later – at the time Sean spoke to the Emmaus website, he had been living in the community for four years. Since arriving, he has really flourished in an environment that provides security and the chance to work.


Among other jobs, Sean serves customers in Emmaus Cambridge's community coffee shop

‘I have been at Cambridge so long now, I am seen as a bit of a trouble-shooter,’ he says. ‘I move around on a daily basis so there’s a lot of variety in the work that I do – I can work anywhere within the community: driving vehicles; working in the warehouse; serving customers in the coffee shop; or at the shop counter.’

"Emmaus saved my life."

Sean

Powerful

As well as working within the Emmaus Cambridge community, Sean has also travelled abroad to work with Emmaus – visiting communities in Romania on five occasions. ‘Of all the things I have done in my 56 years, I don’t think I have felt as powerful as I do when I get out of bed and go to work in the morning,’ he enthuses. ‘I am making a positive change to someone’s life somewhere and that’s an amazing thing to be able to do.’

Speaking about the charity who run the community which has made such a difference in his life, Sean has nothing but positive things to say. ‘If I hadn’t done my detox and come to Cambridge, I would probably have ended up dying on the street,’ he admits. ‘Emmaus has given me purpose and structure.

‘My family and friends think that Emmaus is wonderful,’ he continues, ‘And [they] can see the effect it’s had on me in turning my life around and making me happy. Emmaus saved my life.’

Please note that names may have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Images are used for illustrative purposes only and, unless specified, persons included in images are posed models, not the persons mentioned in the article.