Welcome to the Emmaus Community News, Spring 2023.
When I went down with Covid I ended up hospitalised overnight. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t walk. I’ve never felt so sick in my life. I was expected to go back to my job as a carer after a fortnight but I was still testing positive and didn’t feel I could. I’d already handed in my notice before I got sick but I was told not to work the rest of it, just leave straight away.
With the cost of living crisis, I quickly fell behind with my rent and other bills while I waited six weeks to receive Universal Credit. I sold some of my possessions to raise money but in the end I had to leave all my other stuff behind. I just couldn’t afford my flat any more and I literally had to pack some bags and go. But I still had all those debts.
I was sofa surfing for months and spent two weeks in a hostel before I found Emmaus Burnley. The staff there helped me work out which bills I had and who they were for, and supported me so I could pay them off. They also helped me get medication for the depression I’d been suffering.
I enjoyed working in the Emmaus Department Store in Rochdale – the largest charity shop in the country and I’d quite like to work in a furniture shop now I’ve moved on from Emmaus.
My advice would be not to hide from things, to try and sort it out. It’s thanks to Emmaus that I am now able to face my problems.
The past few years have been extremely challenging for us all but thanks to your brilliant support and the ingenuity of our communities, we continue to make a huge difference to people experiencing homelessness and poverty across the UK.
We now have 30 communities around the country that provide a home and meaningful work for 813 companions. And Emmaus is still growing. With your help, three Emmaus groups are working hard to open new communities to serve the needs of homeless people in Cornwall, North Staffordshire and South Manchester.
It’s vital that our communities are not here today, gone tomorrow. Over the years, supporters like you have helped us to ensure they remain sustainable. In fact, last year we marked a number of significant anniversaries. Emmaus Mossley and Emmaus Brighton both celebrated their 25th anniversary, Emmaus Hertfordshire and Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland marked their 20th and Emmaus Hastings its 10th. This is a fantastic achievement.
Your support provides companions with the opportunity to work and receive training so they are equipped with the skills to move on when they feel ready. The Emmaus ethos also encourages everyone in our communities to ‘give back’ through acts of solidarity – and they are doing this in all sorts of ways.
For example, Emmaus Suffolk Hubs offer a friendly, safe space for people who are vulnerable, socially isolated or long-term unemployed where they can relax and enjoy themselves. Whether chatting over a cuppa, playing board games, building puzzles, reading a book or taking part in other creative activities, the Hubs enable people to feel a sense of belonging.
Emmaus Cambridge and Emmaus Hastings & Rother have been helping hard-pressed parents provide school uniform for their children. While the charity shop established by the Emmaus South Manchester group has teamed up with Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust on an ‘Arts for Good Health’ project called Reworx. The shop provides second-hand clothes for service users to upcycle and redesign into fashion items that are then given back to Emmaus to sell.
Your donations are not only supporting people to work their way out of homelessness but, through these acts of solidarity, you are also helping so many other vulnerable and isolated people in wider society. You’re the backbone of everything we do and we can’t thank you enough.
Emmaus Hertfordshire and Emmaus Greenwich have joined with other good causes at Charity Super.Mkt - the country’s first ever charity superstore.
Her Majesty the Queen Consort visited Emmaus SLC on 13 December 2022 to meet with the formerly homeless people who live there and tour the social enterprise and community home.
In the 18 months since I joined Emmaus as Chief Executive it’s been an absolute pleasure to see all the amazing work going on across the federation – some of which I hope you have enjoyed reading about today.
We’ve been doing a lot of work to prepare for the future, developing a new strategic plan and setting our ambitions to help more people, work smarter, shout louder about the work we are doing in the UK, and work better together as a federation.
It’s vital that we can continue to help more people, especially in the light of figures from Shelter. These reveal a homelessness emergency in the capital where one in 58 people is experiencing homelessness. The figure is one in 208 across England. However, as the cost of living crisis continues, I know you’ll understand just how challenging things continue to be for our communities. Some are experiencing a 500% rise in energy costs, while food inflation and petrol price increases have also put community budgets under severe pressure.
This is having a significant impact on the money available to support our companions, and that’s why we really need people like you by our side – now, more than ever.