Mark joined Emmaus Gloucestershire in April 2023 as our Support Coordinator. Read Mark’s Q&A to find out more about his role and experience at our Emmaus community!

What does your role at Emmaus Gloucestershire involve?

In my role as Support Coordinator at Emmaus Gloucestershire, the three most important aspects are initial contact with applicants, supporting companions to settle into the Emmaus Gloucestershire community, and helping companions to recognise and address any barriers they may have to achieve their goals.

Applications to become a companion may come from the Emmaus UK referral team, directly to Emmaus Gloucestershire through local authorities, prisons, and other homeless support organisations, or from the applicants themselves.

I try to arrange face-to-face meetings to complete a risk assessment and I see this as an important part of my role. I need to assess if we can offer the level of support the applicant needs, whether they can play a positive part in community life, and if they can adhere to the license agreement as I am keen not to set someone up to fail. Just as important, I want to ensure that our existing companions will be safe, and the dynamics of the community are not disrupted. This is important because Emmaus Gloucestershire is their home and therefore the community house does not have management supervision after office hours. The companions’ police and supervise their activities, knowing that the management team is on call if needed and will respond promptly to any issues.

Another aspect of my role is to support companions to settle into the Emmaus Gloucestershire community and to address any concerns and issues that can arise when you have multiple individuals who live and work together.

The most rewarding part of my role is helping companions to recognise and address any barriers they may have in achieving their goals. I have formal support sessions with each companion monthly where we review the following areas: physical and mental wellbeing, substance misuse, independent living skills, connecting with people, Emmaus community, solidarity, recourse to public funds, money, move-on plans, and training and development needs. More importantly, we have an open-door policy at Emmaus Gloucestershire which means the companions can come and speak to us at any time.

Why did you want to work for Emmaus Gloucestershire?

I wanted to work for Emmaus Gloucestershire partly for selfish reasons as I had recently moved to the area and was working in Bristol so I wanted a more local job, but also because Emmaus was somewhere I could continue to use the skills, knowledge and experience gained over many years working with clients with multiple needs and barriers.

What is your favourite thing about Emmaus Gloucestershire?

My favourite thing about Emmaus Gloucestershire is the companions, they are a joy to work with. I have not had a day yet where I have not laughed at least once. It is the companions who have created a sense of community at Emmaus Gloucesteshire.

Can you share a memorable experience from your time at Emmaus Gloucestershire?

A memorable experience was a simple act of kindness from a companion. I was having a horrible day, after a thorough investigation it became apparent that we had to revoke the license of a companion, a decision that upset all the staff involved. I was on my way to escort that companion off the premises when I was stopped by another companion who simply asked if I was okay.

Can you share a success story that you’re proud of?

Not my success story, but the Emmaus Gloucestershire community. I have seen companions support a BBQ that was organised by staff as a thank you to the 47 volunteers that play an important role in the success of Emmaus Gloucestershire. Staff and companions set up the event, cooked additional food and at the end of the day helped clean up. Attendance and support from the companions was almost 100%.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about homelessness?

I think that the greatest misconception about homelessness is that everyone is suffering from addictions or poor mental health. In the time I have been at Emmaus Gloucestershire, I have begun to realise that most of us are only two missed rent or mortgage payments or one failed relationship away from homelessness.

What is the most important thing people should know about Emmaus Gloucestershire?

Emmaus Gloucestershire is truly a community where staff and companions work together for the greater good.