St Albans charity Emmaus finds home and work for formerly homeless father

PUBLISHED: 14:05 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:05 07 November 2017

Martin Allen, who passed his motorbike test and found work thanks to Emmaus. Photo supplied by Emmaus.

Martin Allen, who passed his motorbike test and found work thanks to Emmaus. Photo supplied by Emmaus.

Archant

A former homeless man has thanked a St Albans charity for helping him find a job and somewhere to live.

Martin Allen, 47, ended up on the streets after the breakdown of his marriage.

After failing to get a council home, and fearing he may never see his daughters again, he attempted suicide.

“I really believed my life was over. I was trying to sleep when no-one was out who might see me, but that meant I was unable to get a good night’s sleep as I thought someone might rob me,” he said.

A friend steered Martin in the direction of Emmaus Hertfordshire, which provides work and a roof to 35 people who have previously been homeless.

So-called ‘companions’ work full-time selling second-hand furniture and household items at the charity’s stores across the county, including one on Hill End Lane.

The profits are then put back into helping companions develop skills and rebuild their self-respect.

Martin said: “A couple of my friends found out I was sleeping rough and put me up over Christmas. One of them brought up Emmaus and I decided to give it a go.

“The idea of working again really appealed to me, as I just wanted the stability. My life changed the minute I arrived.”

While living with Emmaus Martin studied for his motorbike test, and now works as a van driver for the charity while living in Dunstable with his girlfriend.

“Emmaus allowed me to rebuild myself and gave me self-worth. I just sorted myself out properly, and that’s exactly what living at the community does for people.

“I now see my daughters every other weekend and they’ve even called my motorbike ‘Emma’ in honour of Emmaus.

“People don’t realise by donating their old furniture, we can support ourselves as a community by recycling it.

“I believe in myself now, and if I set my mind to something I can do it, my mojo has officially returned and I am so grateful.”

This year, Emmaus worked with Blankets for the Homeless St Albans & Hertfordshire to hand out homemade knitted blankets for homeless people.

To find out more about them visit www.emmaus.org.uk/Norwich or facebook.com/stalbansemmaus

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