I have been in touch with a charity called Emmaus, which helps people such as myself to resolve their homelessness issues, and gives continuing support to assist you to get back on your feet.
The structure and business model is quite simple in that they will provide you a self-contained room, and in return you work for them for 40hrs per week in their various businesses, as they are self-sufficient only really relying on donations(not always monetary) and the money they make through their various enterprises in the community.
I was given a 2 day trial, whereby I was taken to all the businesses, warehouse, 3 retail outlets selling quality second-hand goods, also back at the house there is housekeeping which included purchasing and preparing lunch and dinner for the 30 companions.
So yesterday I was sent to work in the warehouse which was bitterly cold, also it’s January so not nearly as busy as it would be usually, spent 8hrs with very little to do, the monotony of the day broken by the arrival of sandwiches for lunch.
It did though give me the opportunity to talk to the other companions about their experiences with Emmaus, and surprisingly they were willing to put their views across which I appreciated as the decision had to be mad this morning as to whether I would join.
One word rand out loud and clear “institutionalised” I had the word in mind anyway, simply because the business model does not allow any flexibility as to where you do your voluntary work, you have to work for them and that’s it, if you try to raise any points the rapid rely is, we give you a roof over your head feed you, and give you £35 per week.
Fantastic yes, but I already work in the community voluntarily and would have loved to continue to do so, but it wasn’t even considered I had to give up all my alliances built up over the last 18 months since being in recovery and now could only look to Emmaus for support.
Another point raised up was that because they had little funds, they had no social life, so early to rise early to bed, there is loads of free stuff to do in this town, but again they weren’t really encouraged to go out.
It’s always called the house or community , its friendly but you do feel a bit shut away from the world.
You do fill in an application of sorts, but your skill set isn’t really utilised because you can only work for them, and the people here are very diverse, as are their reasons for being here, therefore some would need the complete structure of what they provide others would only need some of it, that again fits with my idea that in some case others could source their own voluntary work or be put on placement and still contribute to the community.
There was a feeling that the companions weren’t really empowered to strike out on their own, the employment counselling, and other out reach type programes are not encouraged, as time off to do day courses or even go to interviews are always secondary to the business, which of course as a charity they must have full occupancy at all times to make the service pay.
So all in all when I considered everything I’ve decided not to take up the placement, mainly because not all the structure in place pertains to me, and I feel that I would be losing too much of myself and all I have gained, and wouldn’t really move forward, and the only thing it would address is my homelessness.
I fully appreciate services like these are invaluable to the community, and they provide a haven for many, but for me at the risk of sound ungrateful, I would have liked more flexibility, but know that being the new girl i can’t have something different to another who has been there for a year or more, even if they don’t want to move on, their basic needs are met and they don’t want more, I do, and I also didn’t think it right just to use this as a temporary stepping stone when knowing deep down I wouldn’t be happy.
I have to say even though I should have packed and vacated by now, they have allowed me to stay as a guest until Monday, to give me some more breathing space, and spent quite a lot of time phoning around getting me appointments to other agency’s which might help, so again thank them for that and the companions for agreeing, so guess who’s on cooking duty for the next few nights..
even though my status is essentially the same I’m happy with my decision, I’m shaky but in the long run it’s the best thing for me, with my mission statement in mind i have to think differently about how I approach my problems to effect better solutions, which are of long-term benefit as opposed to quick fixes, I’ve to my first hurdle of 2015 and jumped it not cleanly, but over it.
Today’s Positive: Making an important decision and feeling good about it.