Charlotte Talbott, Chief Executive of Emmaus UK, warned figures on UK homelessness are the “tip of the iceberg” during an opening address at the Emmaus National Assembly.

She said: “The housing system in the UK is broken and more people are suffering.

“A third more people are sleeping on the streets now than 10 years ago,” she added, referencing rough sleeping figures released by the government earlier this year.

“There’s a chronic shortage of social homes, private renters are worried about the stability of their accommodation and the current system does not provide sufficient protection.

“Over one quarter of a million people are stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation including in hostels, hotels and bed and breakfasts – sadly, this includes 130,000 children. 129,000 young people approached their local authority for help last year, and we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The theme of the Emmaus National Assembly on October 8 and 9 was ‘Creating a Powerful Movement’ and Charlotte spoke about the need to unite as one movement to tackle social injustice and suffering.

National Assembly offers opportunities to help more people, work smarter, shout louder and work better together

The event in Hinckley, Leicestershire, brought together more than 200 delegates from Emmaus communities across the UK, including residents with experience of homelessness, known as companions, federation staff and trustees, guests from Emmaus Europe, Emmaus International and others outside the sector.

Workshops offered the opportunity to explore activities linked to the federation’s strategy to help more people, work smarter, shout louder and work together better. And a series of awards presented by Emmaus UK Founder, Selwyn Image, formed part of the evening celebrations.

On Day two, the fashion designer Wayne Hemingway joined fellow co-founder of Charity.Mkt, Maria Chenowoth, for a panel discussion with Carina Aaltonen, Chair of Emmaus Europe, Anaïs Gournay, of Emmaus International and Pierre Makhlouf, of Bail for Immigration Detainees, on the subject of ‘Activists for change’, before a closing speech from Emmaus UK President, Sir Terry Waite.

Sir Terry, who became President of Emmaus UK shortly after his release from captivity in 1991 after 1763 days, the first four years of which were spent in solitary confinement, said: “If Emmaus stands for one thing, it stands for the fact that each companion is of worth. Their life is of worth. They are valuable…We are Emmaus. We stand together in the face of difficulties and uncertainty.”

Assembly showcases achievements from across Emmaus

As part of a showcase of achievements from across the federation, Made by Emmaus products from Emmaus social enterprises were displayed. There was also promotion of the new season of the award-winning Emmaus UK podcast, Homelessness Matters.

The podcast launched on World Homelessness Day (October 10th) with six new episodes to share stories from people with lived experience of homelessness and experts, to explore how factors in society can lead to homelessness in the UK.

The Homelessness Matters podcast is available to download via this link