Tomorrow the 46-year-old, who turned her life around thanks to a Preston-based charity, will tell her story to MPs in Parliament in the hope it will prevent others going through what she went through.
Karen received support from Emmaus Preston and now works at the charity helping others break the cycle of homelessness and move on to independent living.
She will speak in Westminster at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness (APPGEH) inquiry on how to prevent prison leavers from becoming homeless.
“Life before Emmaus was lonely, fearful and to be honest not really a life,” she said. “It was a day to day existence in which I didn’t care if I lived or died.
“The routine at Emmaus meant I no longer felt like I was wasting my life. I have progressed from a companion to a staff member and I’m now able to help other people.
“I’m looking forward to speaking at the APPGEH event to provide parliamentarians with some knowledge that will hopefully help them make changes to prevent people going through the things I have been through.”
The APPGEH inquiry session is an opportunity for MPs to hear from, and put questions to, a panel of experts and people who have experienced both the prison system and homelessness.
Emmaus Preston supports formerly homeless people by providing them with a stable home and meaningful work for as long as they need it.
The charity operates four social enterprises selling donated furniture, white goods, clothes, bikes, household goods and upcycled products.
Stephen Buchanan, director of Emmaus Preston, said: “Karen has a wealth of knowledge gained from her own personal experience and through her role in supporting other homeless people. She is a fantastic asset to the Emmaus Preston community and will provide great insight at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness inquiry session.”
To find out more and support Emmaus Preston head to www.emmaus.org.uk/preston. If you would like to get involved or donate an item, please call 01772 796622 or visit the Emmaus Preston Megastore on Brookfield Street or Deepdale Mill Street Superstore.
Emmaus supports formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to regain lost self-esteem to help rebuild their lives.
There are currently 28 Emmaus communities across the country, supporting more than 750 companions (formerly homeless people) in the UK.
In addition there are four Emmaus groups, all of which are working towards setting up an Emmaus community in their area. Emmaus aims to offer 1,000 companion places by 2020.