For many people who have experienced homelessness, losing their self-esteem can be the most damaging part of their experience. Being on your own, with no support around you can be soul destroying, leaving you feeling worthless.
Finding your way out of that situation isn’t easy, particularly when the only options available are temporary fixes, offering a bed for the night but little to occupy your days.
Emmaus is different because it provides a home for as long as someone needs it in an Emmaus community. This gives people the opportunity to take stock of their lives, deal with any issues they might have, and often re-establish relationships with loved ones.
“Companion” is how we affectionately refer to those who live in an Emmaus community and work in the social enterprise, where they support themselves and one another.
Emmaus social enterprises generate revenue that pays for companions’ home, food and upkeep, as well as providing a small weekly allowance. This is key to restoring feelings of self-worth, showing these individuals that their actions make a real difference, both to their own life, and the lives of others.
There are currently 29 Emmaus communities across the UK, providing a home and meaningful work to more than 815 formerly homeless people. In addition to this, there are five emerging groups, working hard to establish new communities. Together, we are working towards a target of being able to offer 1,000 companion rooms by 2020.
For every £1 spent with Emmaus there is an £11 social, economic and environmental return on investment.
This was the finding of a social return on investment study carried out on behalf of Emmaus. The research showed that we make a significant impact, with savings to the healthcare system, a reduction in crime and reoffending as well as savings to the benefits bill.
Solidarity, helping others less fortunate than yourself, is central to the Emmaus way of life. Everyone at Emmaus, including companions, staff, trustees and volunteers is encouraged to carry out acts of solidarity to support people who need it most.
For companions in particular, this has a huge impact on their confidence and self-worth, showing them that they can make a difference to someone else’s life and add value to the lives of people around them.
Emmaus isn’t just in the UK, in fact it originally started in France in the 1940s. Since then Emmaus has grown into an international movement with more than 350 groups based in 37 countries across the world.