To celebrate 30 years since homelessness charity Emmaus was established in the UK, our companion Dean and former Community Director Geraldine Tsakirakis (pictured above) recently attended a lunch event at Clarence House, the royal residence of the charity’s royal Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall.

On Wednesday 10 November, Dean was one of 30 people supported by Emmaus communities across the UK, to be invited to the lunch with The Duchess, and to share with her how our charity has made a difference to his life.

Dean (45) joined Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire, after alcoholism led to years of sleeping rough. Our charity, based in Binley, provides accommodation, support and the opportunity for meaningful work. Dean is now rebuilding his life and gaining skills for the future.

Speaking about his visit to Clarence House, Dean said: “This time last year I was only four months out of rehab, and now I’m meeting royalty! It all went really well and had a chance to speak to The Duchess. I told her about my battles with addiction and that I’m rebuilding my life now, and she was very encouraging. Overall, it was an amazing day that I won’t forget.”

Geraldine Tsakirakis, former Community Director of Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire, who accompanied Dean for the royal event, said: “What an honour to be in the company of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and such inspiring people who have had their lives turned around by Emmaus.”

The event was part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of Emmaus in the UK, reflecting on we have achieved in the past three decades. Originating in France, the first Emmaus community in the UK opened in 1991; there are now 29 across the country, supporting more than 850 formerly homeless people by providing a safe home, training, tailored support and meaningful work in a social enterprise.

Charlotte Talbott, CEO of Emmaus UK said “We are extremely grateful to Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and the staff at Clarence House for hosting a fantastic celebration event. Countless lives have been transformed in Emmaus communities and groups over the past 30 years and it was important to be able to bring some of those people together, along with their guests, to mark this important point in our history. It was a great day and a fitting tribute, and I look forward to seeing Emmaus reach even more people over the next 30 years!”