Enterprise Leader Gavin Temple shares his inspiring story of how he progressed from companion to employee at Emmaus Hull and East Riding.
The year building up to me coming to Emmaus was pretty bad. I lost everything in my personal life including my job and my home. It all spiralled out of control. Everybody I knew from my past disappeared and no one was there to help me. I was too embarrassed to go cap in hand to people. And then a landlady of a pub I used to frequent sent me the link for Emmaus UK and I went through the online porthole.
In August 2019, Emmaus Hull got in contact with me. I came up here and I’ve never looked back. It’s the best secret I ever found out about. It’s absolutely brilliant and I feel like I embraced it completely. When I arrived I tried my hand at everything and I did my best at everything I was doing. The first port of call was being on the shop floor. I just started moving things around on the shop floor, polishing and cleaning stuff. I suppose that got noticed and I got given a bit more responsibility. I went to work in the warehouse and then Kelly Finnis, who has been pivotal in my time here, asked me to go onto the Outreach team. Whilst I enjoyed my 3 months with the Outreach team and gained invaluable experience, I didn’t feel it was right for me.
As soon as I’d done the 3 months on Outreach, I went back into the retail side of things and was placed at the Whitefriargate store. It was doing OK, but it looked quite ram shackled. My manager, Paul Towle, has been a huge support to me from the beginning. I started doing some visual merchandising, trying to make things look good and rotating stock. Then, as a companion, Paul started to give me more responsibility and trusted me with the shop. I could take it in whatever direction I wanted and we went down the vintage and retro look.
When the job of Enterprise Leader became available in April 2020, I was urged to apply for the job. Then lockdown happened and it all got put on the backburner. I had an interview with our Chair Chris O’Donnell and I was offered the job on 7th September 2020. The transition to becoming a full time employee has been made seamless, partly due to me being already familiar with the role and also due to the support of the companions and staff. The only hiccup has been due to the fact we have all suffered from the pandemic and national lockdown.
If you told me two years ago I’d be living up in Hull, doing the job I am doing and in my own one-bed flat, I’d have said ‘you’re having a laugh’. But here I am doing it, and I’ve never looked back. I love Emmaus and I can’t speak highly enough of the charity. I think there should be one in every major city of the UK. It’s a brilliant organisation.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of coming to Emmaus?
You really can turn your life around with Emmaus. If you can fully embrace the whole ethos of Emmaus you will get the most out of it. It’s all laid on for you to succeed. Take advantage of what’s on offer such as courses. They may look like little bits of paper, but they look good on a CV and tick boxes for employers. You’ve got to change what you’ve always done if you want something different. Sometimes you’ve just got to start at the bottom and work your way up again.
I would also say to take a look at the core offer and the Emmaus values. If you can tick a few of those boxes, jump in with both feet and embrace it. Give it your all and be honest all the way. Whether you’re struggling mentally, physically, with drugs or alcohol. Because if you can’t be helped within that particular community, you could receive help in another. Don’t just see it as a roof over head where you can come and let everybody carry you. If everybody pulls together, everyone moves in the right direction. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying.
Do you have any plans or goals for the future?
If there’s one thing life has taught me it’s that you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. I would like to stay where I am, doing the job I am doing, and working for Emmaus. Whether it’s for Emmaus Hull or Emmaus UK, I want to stick with this charity. It has helped me so much I can’t put it in to words. I could be in a really bad place if it wasn’t for that call from Emmaus. I’ve got about another 25 years of working left in me. I want to work for Emmaus until the day I retire, without a shadow of a doubt. My goal is to help Emmaus Hull and East Riding to become totally financially independent. The sky’s the limit!