After leaving home at 16, battling drug addiction and attempting suicide, Frazer found himself homeless. He has now put his past behind him and is taking the opportunity to thank Emmaus for helping him get his life back on track this World Homeless Day.
Frazer’s story is one that has been heard many times; a broken family and a step-dad who he didn’t get on with. As a teenager, he began to rebel and left home with no one to turn to for help and advice.
“When I found myself in a 16-25 hostel, I was rubbing shoulders with people in their 20’s, which is a big age gap. Hostel life is not a good environment either – you don’t have an agenda for the day, and you have so much time on your hands that it’s hardly a surprise that so many people fill it with drink and drugs.”
Describing what it was like sleeping on the streets, Frazer added:
“During those nights, I barely felt anything because I was so out of it. My only goal in life was to make money to get some drugs and that’s all I cared about at the time.”
Frazer, now 30, was in and out of homelessness for more than 10 years and believes that, without the support, guidance and ‘second chance’ culture of Emmaus, he would either be dead or in prison.
Emmaus UK supports more than 800 formerly homeless people every day throughout the UK, providing them with a home, ongoing fully funded training, meaningful work experience in one of their social enterprises and an opportunity to get themselves back on their feet. There are 29 Emmaus communities across the UK which, unlike other homelessness services, provide a home for as long as someone needs it. There are also five groups working towards becoming communities.
Emmaus communities also facilitate support for formerly homeless people, in whatever form that this is needed; whether this is support with substance misuse or mental health issues, each person is assisted based on their individual needs.
Frazer spent eight years in various Emmaus communities, during which time he obtained his driving license and an apprenticeship in site maintenance through the Companion Training Fund offered by Emmaus. However, past demons crept back, despite his best efforts to get his life back on track, and he attempted to commit suicide.
Frazer said about a maintenance role he took on at Emmaus Hertfordshire:
“I began to put too much pressure on myself and I was waiting for something bad to happen, I had no need to be like that though – Emmaus Hertfordshire wasn’t putting pressure on me and all the support was there, I just didn’t see it. The self-doubt tripped me up and I attempted suicide, which wasn’t for the first time.”
In November 2016, Frazer joined the community in Norfolk and Waveney where he stayed for two years. Last year he was offered a paid job working at the community as a van driver and now has his own home independent of Emmaus. He has been clean for more than three years thanks to Emmaus giving him the time and space he needed to overcome his addiction.
“Without all these lifelines and second chances, I wouldn’t be able to now say that I am living independently and working as a full-time paid van driver at Emmaus Norfolk and Waveney. I was so happy and a little nervous to start the role, but I know the job inside and out and the rest of the staff are great.”
“I don’t resent my experiences as they have helped me to become who I am today and, with the help of Emmaus, I have finally been able to get my life back.”
If you, or someone you know, are homeless or at risk of being homeless, please visit www.emmaus.org.uk/gethelp.
For more information about the work that Emmaus does, please visit www.emmaus.org.uk.