On Thursday 14 December, Her Majesty The Queen visited Emmaus Bristol to celebrate its 25th anniversary and meet with companions, staff and volunteers.

The Queen, who became Patron of Emmaus UK when she was The Duchess of Cornwall, toured Emmaus Bristol’s site to learn more about the community and see how it has grown since her last visit in 2006.

Led by Jessica Hodge, Chief Executive at Emmaus Bristol, the tour included the charity’s second-hand shop, office, upcycling workshop, warehouse and PAT testing area where companions test donated electrical items so they can be resold to raise funds.

During the tour, The Queen sat with residents to hear more about how Emmaus Bristol has supported them.

Michael, who has been at Emmaus Bristol since August 2023 after spending one month sleeping in his car, gave The Queen an upcycling demonstration. Commenting on meeting The Queen, Michael said:

“I never thought in a million years that I would meet The Queen. Her support of Emmaus is brilliant because it’s not like other charities. Here you get somewhere to live, work, training and the chance to rebuild your life. I upcycle a lot of donated furniture at Emmaus Bristol and I am really happy I got to show The Queen some items.”

Her Majesty The Queen’s visit a “great gift”

The visit was concluded with a reception, where Her Majesty cut an anniversary cake using the Lord-Lieutenant’s sword. To celebrate the visit, The Queen was presented with two wooden dog bowl holders for her Jack Russell Terrier rescue dogs, Beth and Bluebell. The holders, made by Emmaus Merseyside, were made reclaimed wood that was otherwise destined for landfill.

Before departing, The Queen browsed the charity’s second-hand shop, which included upcycled Christmas decorations from Emmaus North East and Emmaus South Manchester. In the shop, The Queen found a pre-loved Christmas plate to purchase before leaving.

Commenting on the event, Jessica Hodge, Chief Executive at Emmaus Bristol, said:

“We were honoured by The Queen’s visit to Emmaus Bristol during our 25th anniversary year. Seeing Her Majesty seated alongside the people we support symbolises the core of Emmaus – equality and inclusivity in action. It was really rewarding to see the level of genuine interest The Queen took in Emmaus and the work we do. The Queen’s visit was a great gift to all the people who have worked hard to make Emmaus Bristol a thriving charity that has helped so many people recover and rebuild after experiencing homelessness. To celebrate the visit, we were delighted to present The Queen with a gift for her dogs made from reclaimed wood, reflecting our sustainability values.”

Continued support

Her Majesty The Queen became Patron of Emmaus UK, when she was The Duchess of Cornwall, in 2006. Emmaus Bristol was the first site that Her Majesty visited after becoming Patron and today marked her first Emmaus site visit since Their Majesties’ Coronation in May.

At the event, Her Majesty was received by Emmaus UK president, Sir Terry Waite; Emmaus UK Chair of Trustees, Jill Garner; His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Bristol, Mrs Peaches Golding; High Sheriff of Bristol, Sharon Foster; and The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Steve Pearce.

Speaking about the support of Her Majesty The Queen and the difficulties people experiencing homelessness face this time of year, Jill Garner said:

“I was delighted to join The Queen and other guests to celebrate Emmaus Bristol, one of a network of Emmaus communities across the UK providing a home and hope for formerly homeless people.

“While many celebrate the festivities with family and friends, this time of year can be particularly difficult for anyone without a place to stay. 

“With homelessness rising, more people than ever are on the outside at what should be a time of togetherness and joy, and Emmaus communities are needed more than ever to help those with experience of homelessness to build their lives again.”

This festive season, Emmaus is encouraging people to support its Christmas Appeal to raise vital funds that can be used across the charity. Shoppers can also visit their local Emmaus to find affordable pre-loved items while helping to generate income to support people out of homelessness. Find your local Emmaus.