I have worked at Emmaus Gloucestershire as the Stroud Shop Manager since January 2022. My main highlight so far is seeing the companions thrive. I’ve had people who haven’t been comfortable on the till or speaking to customers, and then they eventually build up the confidence and it’s great to see.

Before Emmaus, I worked for Sue Ryder and spent time as a visual merchandiser at House of Fraser. I think my experience at House of Fraser helped to make the Stroud shop what it is now. The shop used to be an Aladdin’s cave, but not necessarily in the best way. In 2022, we had a big makeover to rearrange everything and freshen up the walls and carpet. We organised stock into sections to make it easier for customers and reviewed our processes to make it easier for storing, sorting and stocking. It’s a nicer shop to visit, and work in now, and our regular customers are loving our new look!

A lot of my role involves supporting the companions and volunteers as well as running the shop. Everyone has their own struggles and I’m there to help out. In other Shop Manager roles, you don’t usually have the same element of supporting vulnerable adults. In some ways, it’s more challenging, but in many other ways, it’s more rewarding and enjoyable. We all tend to leave smiling, so that’s something!

Since joining Emmaus, I have learnt a lot of new things too, but the biggest highlight was getting my PAT testing qualification. Emmaus put me through the course and since doing that, I’ve gained confidence with electrical items both at work and at home. After the course, I felt confident enough to put up a new light fitting in my house which I was happy about. It was at the wrong time of day, so I had to use a torch, but that’s beside the point!

I would describe Emmaus as a support network. We make sure that people have somewhere to live, within our community, and a purpose by coming to help in the shops. I get to work every day with the people that Emmaus is supporting and that’s nice because you can see the difference you make. In one sentence, I’d say Emmaus is a family. It’s a proper little community with a family feeling. Everyone gets on really well and we’re all just there for each other. Everyone has their own issues, including me, and we pick up the slack when someone isn’t doing as good.

We get tons of regular customers and a lot of customers that get dragged in by their dogs because they know we’ve got treats, it’s the best marketing ploy! If anyone is reading this and wondering how to support Emmaus Gloucestershire, I’d say just keep bringing your interesting donations to us or consider volunteering because we’re always looking for help!

*Andrea’s jumpsuit was bought from Emmaus Gloucestershire!