A new charity shop and café managed by Emmaus companions will be coming to Crouch Street this summer as part of local homelessness charity Emmaus Colchester’s 10th anniversary celebrations.

Emmaus Colchester provides a home and meaningful work for up to 31 companions who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion, offering them an alternative route out of homelessness within a supportive environment. Companions volunteer full time while they are at Emmaus selling second-hand furniture and household goods at its two Emmaus charity shops on the High Street, an Emmaus Works shop on Osborne Street and a warehouse at Arthur Street.

The new retail operation, ‘Emmaus New Life’, will sell top-end donated goods and one-of-a-kind upcycled items that have been restored by companions who are skilled in refurbishing old and worn items.

Darren Scott, Business Manager at Emmaus Colchester, said: “The café will be staffed by companions with NVQ Level 2 in Food and Hygiene, and will serve hot drinks, cake, and snacks. The new shop and café will be in the former Lloyds Bank building.

“We’ve got every trade in the book at Emmaus Colchester – companions that can do plumbing, carpentry, or woodwork. On paper, they are homeless, and people often forget that they do have skills and experience just like anyone else.

“Customers that come into our shops don’t realise that the people behind the tills, or volunteering in the shops, are companions – they think they’re paid staff. That just goes to show how professional and good at their job they are.

“The companions work so well – they run the business side of Emmaus really. The expansion of a new shop and café means that we can provide more opportunities for our companions. It will also mean that there will be a wider variety of roles in our social enterprises, more upcycling, and more training available. Working in a café setting will definitely broaden their horizons for the future too.”

To find out more or get involved with Emmaus Colchester, please visit www.emmaus.org.uk/colchester or call 01206 541616.