To celebrate our 30th anniversary, we are asking our community members 30 questions about them and Emmaus Gloucestershire. For our first feature, we have Lorraine Watson, our Operations Manager.

What is your role at Emmaus Gloucestershire?

It is the role of the Operations Manager to lead and manage the community and social enterprise in the context of its agreed ethos, values and mission.

How long have you been associated with Emmaus Gloucestershire?

I joined Emmaus Gloucestershire in December 2021 as a Senior Support Coordinator.

Can you summarise what Emmaus Gloucestershire does in one sentence?

We support people to work their way out of homelessness by providing meaningful work and a stable home as long as they need it.

Share a memory of your time at Emmaus Gloucestershire

The lasting memories are often the little differences you make. When you watch someone grow in confidence, improve in health and make better life choices.

What does solidarity mean to you?

Mutual support and a sense of unity. People who look out for and who encourage each other.

What does a typical day at Emmaus Gloucestershire involve for you?

There is no typical day and all best laid plans can change suddenly when dealing with day to day crisis.

First and foremost, it’s about supporting our companions, being ready with that listening ear and act on issues. After welcoming the companions each morning, I check in first off with the Support team to discuss any matters arising and any additional support I can give.

Then of course operationally I am working to ensure the delivery of strategic and operational goals in conjunction with the Business Manager, writing and checking reports, and liaising with staff customers, volunteers and trustees.

What is your favourite thing about Emmaus Gloucestershire and why?

Just everyone in it, from companions, staff and volunteers we are all striving for a common goal.

Which Emmaus Gloucestershire shop is your favourite and why?

That’s a difficult one because they are all different. The Gloucester store because it’s the biggest with a huge array of items, Stroud and Nailsworth for its quirky and vintage options.

What is the strangest donated item you have come across at Emmaus?

Well only this week I came across a bubble wrap suit!

Describe one highlight from your time at Emmaus Gloucestershire

Keeping a relatively happy house, it must be hard for the companions to live and work together but they amaze me how they make the most of it and look out for each other.  I am so proud of them all.

Name two celebrities you would invite to a dinner party at Emmaus Gloucestershire

I need more than two to make it a decent dinner party!  Let’s start with Jon Bon Jovi, because of his passion for poverty and homelessness which led him to set up Soul Federation in America.  I would like to show him what we do (and then get him to sing)!  Also, maybe Philip Serrell or Paul Martin (Auction house) so they could have a tour of the stores and let me know if we are sitting on an antique gold mine (always got an ulterior motive). Perhaps I should include a famous chef who could do the cooking and not forgetting Dermot Mulroney for a bit of eye candy…. Yes I’ve had a crush on him for years.

What do you value most in a friendship?

Mutual respect, honesty and kindness.

What do you feel most grateful for?

My family and friends, I’ve learned not everyone has been as lucky as I have.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Apart from my three beautiful daughters, stepping into this role. I never imagined I would be here. I’d encourage anyone to aim big and have confidence in yourself.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life so far?

That has to be the people closest to me for different reasons.  My parents taught me a strong work ethic, my daughters have influenced my career choices.

Where is your happy place, and why?

Anywhere next to water. I find it so calming and if the sun is shining I’m even happier.

What is one thing that motivates you?

Knowing that my hard work and perseverance will help someone out of homelessness.

What is your favourite hobby?

I have several, reading, walking, sewing and travel.

What is something new you have learnt since being at Emmaus Gloucestershire?

I am continually learning something new at Emmaus Gloucestershire. I have learned so much about myself in the process.  I have vast experience of supporting individuals through homelessness, mental health, substance misuse and abuse and now I am learning the social enterprise element.

Name one person you would like to thank and why

Abbe Pierre for his foresight and starting the Emmaus community in 1949.

Name one thing that you like to do to relax

Walking is a great way to release endorphins and wind down from stress.  Particularly if I can walk near water.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Professionally the chance to prove to myself and others that I can put my stamp on Emmaus Gloucestershire in this new role.

Personally that long awaited holiday I’ve yet to book!!

Name one thing Emmaus Gloucestershire has given you

This is not just a job, Emmaus Gloucestershire has given me a purpose. Every obstacle is worthwhile. I enjoy my time with the companions, they are remarkable despite the many challenges they have faced and the staff and volunteers are amazing.

What is your favourite film?

Do I have to pick only one? ‘The imitation game’ Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Alan Turing was faultless. Turing said “sometimes we can’t do what feels good, we have to do what is logical” – it’s something I have to sometimes remind myself of at times for the better outcome.

If I’m in a soppy mood, then it has to be ‘The Notebook’

What is one benefit of shopping at Emmaus Gloucestershire

Affordable prices, something for everyone and a real treasure trove of items to excite or intrigue and you are doing good for others at the same time.

Why should people support Emmaus Gloucestershire?

Supporting us is enabling us to keeps the cogs turning, by donating, purchasing or volunteering we are working together to be able to provide accommodation and food and give support to our companions to help them through their journey.

What is one thing would you like people to know about homelessness?

Not to stereotype, it can happen to anyone – loss of a job, loss of family. It’s not just about rough sleeping either, many people face unstable accommodation or poverty.

What is one thing people should know about Emmaus Gloucestershire?

We are a homelessness charity with a difference. We offer a sense of belonging, a reason to get up each day. The opportunity to learn new skills and build on existing ones.  We can help our companions access training and learn to drive. It’s all about putting down the foundations to be able to move on independently in the future and be better equipped to secure employment and ultimately a home.

What would you like to say to Emmaus Gloucestershire supporters?

We cannot do it without you. We value every single one of you. Please keep us in your hearts and stay our supporters.

What does Emmaus Gloucestershire mean to you in one sentence?

‘Doing something in a meaningful way and meaning makes our lives worthwhile’