Norwich man looking forward to Christmas after homeless charity gave him chance to rebuild his life
PUBLISHED: 17:49 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:49 26 November 2018
He spent last winter homeless and on the streets but this Christmas a Norwich man will have a roof over his head after he has been helped by a charity.
Stuart moved to Norwich from Newcastle with his partner of five years in 2013 and had trained with the Red Cross in the hope of becoming an ambulance technician.
But the 34-year-old, who left the Red Cross and became a volunteer with St John’s Ambulance, split up with his partner after moving to the city and spent the next few years living in different rented accommodation.
He said: “Life was going well until, a year after relocating to Norwich, my partner and I separated as unfortunately it just wasn’t working out.”
Stuart said he “ran into problems” in terms of struggling to keep up with payments and he was eventually forced to leave and then, without enough money for a deposit on a new place to live, he found himself homeless.
He said: “I started sofa-surfing with friends and colleagues in the area, but that wasn’t always possible. Eventually I was sleeping outside almost every night, mostly in Chapelfield Gardens or in shop doorways. That was in March 2018, and the terrible weather and snow meant that most of the nights were extremely cold.”
After four months on the streets, Stuart found out about Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney which provides a home and meaningful work for up to 23 people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion.
He said: “When I first arrived at Emmaus, I thought it was a lovely – a decent bed, food, and friendly people who all made me feel very welcome.”
At Emmaus, Stuart not only has a home, but the opportunity to gain new skills in the charity’s second-hand shops in Ditchingham and Bungay and is now starting to rebuild his life.
He said: “I want to learn the different areas in Emmaus and see how it goes from there. Eventually, I would like to get back to volunteering at St John’s Ambulance and will be doing first aid training with other people living at the community. I’m also looking forward to Christmas in Emmaus because everyone in the community will be together for a meal.”
Log onto www.emmaus.org.uk/norfolk_waveney to find out more about Emmaus.