Emmaus Colchester marked World Homelessness Day (Wednesday 10th October) with a ‘pop up living room’ in Culver Square shopping centre, to highlight the very real issues local homeless people face, and to raise awareness of this growing issue.

The living room scene was created to inform people of the ‘hidden homeless’, or those who sofa surf, and to highlight just how fragile our lives are. It also provided the opportunity to inform the local community that Emmaus is here to help those that are vulnerable and need its support.

Neil, a companion at Emmaus Colchester, found himself homeless after developing a condition that cause both of his hands to close in on themselves, making it impossible for him to continue working as a carpenter. After sleeping on the beach at Mersea Island, Neil was eventually referred to Emmaus by Colchester Borough Council.

Neil said: “Emmaus has allowed me to fix my hands, build up my confidence and address my debts – I had got into quite a bit of debt having not worked. I enjoy the social aspects and the people; I have friends here, which means I no longer feel so isolated.”

Emmaus Colchester provides a home, support, training and volunteer opportunities for 35 people who have experienced homelessness enabling them to rebuild their lives and move on to independent living.

Gintare Petrauskaite, Community Manager said: “We are all aware that homelessness in the UK is still increasing, and the uncertain economic climate only increases the different reasons people find themselves homeless.  World Homelessness Day is a chance for us to stop and think about what we can do to help.”

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. A new shop and café is due to open in Crouch Street in late October.

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