I never thought that within a few weeks of finding myself homeless I’d be put to work upcycling furniture, but here I am, with a sander in hand, already planning the designs I have in mind for the furniture waiting outside in the storeroom. It’s actually pretty exciting.
This community has a reputation for creating really nice upcycled goods and so it will be interesting for me to learn from people who have been doing it for a while. I have a bit of carpentry experience – I worked with my step-dad for a while in his odd-job business – doing things like putting up shelves, making cabinets and laying floors, so I know how to use some of the tools, but this is very different.
I have also worked as a tattoo artist - I often designed images for people, including the two I have on my own arms - and so I enjoy letting my imagination run wild. I can already see in my mind’s eye the way that a wild flower pattern will interlink over the top of a unit I am working on.
I’m here at Emmaus because my mum and step-dad asked me to move out. I was having some problems with cannabis use. What started out as a casual habit when I was younger really took over my life. I have a little brother and they didn’t want the arguments we were having to start to affect him. Neither did I, he is the centre of my universe. My other brother is autistic, and I think growing up with him taught me a lot about how to relate to other people who might not always have a straightforward life.
Being here in the community, I already have a new perspective on things. I want to make some changes. It is a lot easier to talk to my parents with a little distance between us. I really want to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves here at the community to learn new skills and try to straighten things out.
I left college when I left home, and I lost my tattooing equipment in exchange for a bag of weed. Seems stupid now, but perhaps while I am here I can save up and start over – I’m only 21 and hopefully have plenty of time on my side.
In September 2014 Dean moved away from the community and continues to learn new skills.