It’s amazing to think that it is now 30 years since Emmaus was first established in the UK. It only seems like yesterday that we were setting up the first community from a Portakabin in a Cambridgeshire field. I worked with a dedicated group, many of whom are still involved in the movement today, to provide a home, support, training and meaningful work for people experiencing homelessness as I’d seen in Emmaus in Paris years before.
At that time Abbe Pierre, the founder of Emmaus in France, helped us establish the first community, Emmaus Cambridge. Once we had made back the funds he had initially provided he encouraged us to use them to set up the second community in the UK, Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire.
Since then Emmaus has grown quickly. There are now 28 communities across the UK supporting more than 850 companions. None of this would have been possible without the kindness of all the donors, supporters, shoppers and volunteers who give their time, money and donated goods to Emmaus communities, helping them to thrive.
Their kindness has helped to change the lives of thousands of people in the past 30 years and allows us to continue to support people to rebuild their lives after homelessness, even throughout the trials of the past 18 months.
Despite the pressure of COVID lockdowns, companions and staff worked hard to support their local community during the pandemic, providing food and essential items to people sleeping rough and continuing to run essential services such as Lucie’s Pantries which support families struggling to make ends meet.
Above all, we have worked together across our federation of charities to make sure companions continue to have a safe home for as long as they need, meaningful work in a social enterprise, support and the sense of belonging that is at the heart of Emmaus communities. I hope you enjoy reading about the successes achieved by Emmaus companions, many of whom have used the support they’ve received from Emmaus to go on to thrive.
It is an incredible achievement to have made a difference in the lives of so many people and something I am incredibly proud to have been a part of.
None of this would be possible without your generosity. Thank you from the companions, staff and trustees of Emmaus, we are extremely grateful for your support.
Founder of Emmaus in the UK
people found a home in an Emmaus community through our online national referral service.
of people supported by Emmaus would be sleeping rough if they weren't in an Emmaus community.
of people felt safe and confident and are satisfied with life after 12 months in an Emmaus community.
I was on and off the streets for years, struggling with depression after the death of my son. I didn’t feel like myself and I couldn’t deal with it.
Being homeless, I knew I could hide and be invisible, so that’s what I did. My home was wherever I laid my sleeping bag.
My keyworker set up an interview for me at Emmaus Hertfordshire. I used to volunteer at Emmaus Lambeth, so I already knew a lot about the charity.
The staff in the community showed me around and we had a good chat. At the end of my visit, they said they had a room for me. My keyworker jumped for joy. I wanted to shout from the rooftops.
It was the change I needed, but I found it very hard. Back then, I was argumentative with everybody and so angry at the world. I couldn’t accept the loss of my son. It’s the worst thing you can ever go through. It took quite a while for me to get settled into the community, but after about two years it started to feel like home.
After all the stuff that had gone on in my life, I wanted a fresh start so I moved to Emmaus Dover. It was really scary ‘cause it was all new. I’d left my security blanket and everything I was used to. But everyone in the community accepted me straight away. The staff really do make time for you. If you’ve got a problem and you need to talk to someone, they will stop and sit and listen to you. They’ve got big hearts.
When you’re homeless, you’ve got no routine. Emmaus gave my life structure. It gives me the motivation to keep going. I’ve also been having weekly counselling sessions with Emmaus Dover’s Support Worker. I’ve been to quite a few counsellors in my life, but here I feel like I’m actually being listened to.
I was studying to be a support worker myself before I lost my son. Now, I’m thinking about applying for Emmaus UK’s Companion Training Fund so I can finally complete it and get my qualification. I’ve been through a lot and have personal experiences others can relate to, so I feel like I can really help people.
When I became homeless I was embarrassed to tell anyone and came up with excuses why I couldn’t see my mates. I didn’t want people to judge my decisions and the situations I’d been in.
I’ve always got the support of my family but they’ve got their own problems so I never wanted to add to their problems with mine. I never really wanted to ask for help.
Moving to Emmaus was better than I expected. Straight away I was accepted. I met people who wanted the best for me, wanted the best for themselves, and the best for Emmaus.
During the national lockdown, I volunteered to help with Lucie’s Pantry, Emmaus Salford’s social supermarket. I enjoyed every moment. I could talk to customers, at a distance, and got a feel for what they were going through.
I also got involved with football sessions at Foundation 92. I really enjoyed it and a volunteer slot came up. I was a bit nervous to ask for it because I didn’t want to get rejected. I had to pick up the courage because I had lost a lot of confidence and was questioning myself. The staff at Emmaus gave me the push I needed.
I volunteered to do football coaching, handing out food parcels, and helping in any way I could. It was a real eye-opener in terms of what I wanted to do in the future.
I had the opportunity to do the Kickstart scheme with Foundation 92, which I completed alongside working at Emmaus, fitting in all the work and proving myself to the staff and coaches. Whilst on the scheme I was offered a job as assistant coach. It was more than I was expecting and when they offered me the job I couldn’t believe it.
Emmaus has saved my life. It sounds weird because I had a load of people around me but before coming here, I felt alone.
I never thought I’d be homeless but stuff happens. I wouldn’t change what I’ve been through because I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t have met my true self and proved how strong I am.
Coming to Emmaus is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve met some great people, but I’ve also met myself.
It’s just been one big achievement here.
We make a difference by helping people build their future
households live in temporary accommodation in England.
people were supported by the Everyone In scheme. The scheme provided accommodation for people at risk of sleeping rough during the pandemic.
households approached the council for help because they were homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
We make a difference by encouraging solidaritySolidarity means working to help someone less fortunate than yourself. It is a key part of the Emmaus ethos and provides an opportunity to connect with the local community and Emmaus as a movement.
When my relationship broke down I had to move out of my home. With no address, I quickly lost my job as a builder too. It all just crumbled away. I was rough sleeping for over two years; it wasn’t easy.
I met some guys from the Emmaus Village Carlton Rucksack Stomp team who visit Northampton every week to bring supplies and offer advice to rough sleepers. They’re companions who’ve been homeless themselves, so they know what it’s like. They offered to help me apply to get a place here and soon afterward I moved in.
Since being at Emmaus I have trained as a forklift operative and a warehouse operative. I’m also PAT test certified. These skills will help me to find work in the future.
I couldn’t have asked for any place better than Emmaus. I’ve got my own room and importantly I feel safe here. Every week I volunteer with the Rucksack Stomp team; we go out to Northampton and Wellingborough to help rough sleepers. That’s my way of giving something back, for all the help I’ve received.
companions received support form the Companion Training Fund to attend work and personal training courses, take part in sports and hobbies, complete driving lessons, and attend activities to improve wellbeing.
companions were supported through nine group training courses: including exercise clubs, model building clubs, music rooms and computer rooms at their communities, and a fishing membership.
was awarded from the Companion Training Fund to support companions to reach a personal or professional goal.
This has been the first full year that I have had the pleasure of being chair of Emmaus UK, it has been a complex one with many ups and downs as we continue to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, our number one priority has been keeping our community homes Covid-free, protecting the companions we support.
Despite the challenges they faced, Emmaus companions and staff worked hard to support each other and to find new ways of working to ensure they could continue to help people who have experienced homelessness.
We have adapted well to new ways of working, only carrying out essential travel and holding peer groups and staff meetings online and at more regular intervals to ensure everyone is kept up to date with developments. A new online sales peer group has also been set up with the support of the Rayne Foundation, to ensure communities and groups can continue to trade when their shops are closed.
All of this has been made possible by the continued kindness and generosity of Emmaus supporters.
Sadly one of Emmaus’ long-standing communities, Emmaus Medway has closed this year due to their lease ending and being unable to find a financially viable alternative premises in the area. All companions were supported to move on to other Emmaus communities or alternative accommodation in the local area.
The last twelve months has taught us the importance of being resilient. Whilst we have overcome many challenges, we fear there may be more to come. For this reason, we continue to set aside an emergency fund for members to access should they need it. Whatever happens in the future we need to make sure we are in a strong position to manage. With the continued support of our donors and supporters, we’re confident that we will be able to help even more people to find a route out of homelessness.
Simon Grainge, our Chief Executive, has chosen to depart Emmaus after many years of being part of the federation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his hard work over the years. We look forward to welcoming our new Chief Executive Charlotte Talbott who brings with her a wealth of experience working in the charity sector. Her career has been focussed on drug and alcohol recovery, homelessness and criminal justice.
Once Charlotte starts, and in light of the changing environment post-pandemic, we will be taking time to thoroughly examine what we do as a federation; ensuring we continue to meet the needs of those we support in the most effective way, and make exciting plans for the future. Our priorities will be to help more people, work smarter and shout louder.
Thank you for your continued support.
Chair of Trustees, Emmaus UK