THIS International Volunteer Day (5 December), a Stoke-on-Trent man is thanking Hanley-based charity Emmaus North Staffs for helping him battle drug addiction and move away from a troubled past.
Steve Bourn (38) is sharing how his volunteer placement with the Hanley-based charity helped and is calling on others to consider volunteering.
Emmaus North Staffs runs the Emmaus Furniture Mine charity store in Hanley, which specialises in furniture and homeware. The charity particularly encourages local people with disadvantaged or unconventional backgrounds to volunteer, who might benefit from the experience and sense of routine it offers.
Speaking about his own background, Steve said:
“When I was 18 I started going out partying and using drugs. Soon I was addicted to heroin and cocaine. This led me down the path of drug dealing and getting involved in gang activity. At the peak of my addiction, I was admitted to hospital more than once; I was very lucky not to have died.
“I remember the moment I decided to try to turn my life around. I had just been released from prison but had no money and nowhere to go. I wandered the streets with everyone else out doing their Christmas shopping, and realised I was actually homeless.”
With help from various rehab support organisations, Steve eventually got clean, married and settled down, but when his wife later suffered from post-natal depression, life once again became difficult.
“Things got dark and I relapsed. My wife, who also has a history of drug abuse, relapsed too. It all started to spiral. We knew we had to get clean for good. We had a newborn baby so we asked a family member to take care of her, while we both got the support we needed. With help, we both finally got clean, and have been ever since, but then we had a long-drawn-out court process to regain full custody of our daughter.”
It was during this challenging time that Steve was offered a nine-month volunteer placement at the Emmaus Furniture Mine shop, and he’s grateful for this experience:
“The work schedule helped a lot because a big part of recovery from addiction is having structure and routine. The staff really helped me get through that horrible time until we were finally awarded custody. I’d only ever done drug dealing and manual labour to earn money in the past and so also really appreciated the chance to learn new skills and get some good work experience on my CV.
“I now work as a Development Coach with Stoke homelessness charity Concrete, helping young people avoid a life of crime. I want to help these young people avoid all the horrible stuff and the heartache that I went through. I’m extremely proud of my job and know that my time at Emmaus Norths Staffs had a massive part to play in getting me here. It gave me the confidence to start my life again and work hard to get the job I wanted. I can’t thank them enough and I would definitely recommend volunteering to anyone.”
Funds generated from Emmaus Furniture Mine help continue the charity’s work supporting local people to move away from poverty. Emmaus North Staffs partners with housing associations, supplying furniture and white goods to those setting up home, at no cost to the tenants aside from a small delivery fee. The charity is also raising funds towards its goal of setting up a community for formerly homeless people. The accommodation will offer a home, work experience, daily support and funded training to rebuild lives and will be the first of its kind in the county.
Emmaus North Staffs offers various volunteer opportunities including maintenance, shop floor assistance, helping to run their furniture collection van service and office admin tasks.
For more information or to express an interest in volunteering please call 01782 846111 or email on KeziahStott@emmausnorthstaffs.org.uk
To find out more about Emmaus North Staffs volunteering please visit: www.emmaus.org.uk/north-staffs