Emmaus Greenwich will be holding a special celebratory event on Saturday 25 June to mark 25 years of supporting homeless people in the UK.
Emmaus Greenwich is one of 28 communities in the UK, providing a home and meaningful work for people who have experienced homelessness. The 33 companions supported there, all of whom have experienced homelessness themselves, are among more than 700 people receiving support across the UK.
To mark this anniversary year, Emmaus Greenwich is inviting customers and supporters to join them for the annual Solidarity Sale. The event will be held at two shops, Earl Rise, off Brewery Road in Plumstead and Bellegrove Road, Welling, Bexley from 10am to 4.30pm. All proceeds from the day will go to support Emmaus communities in other parts of the world.
The first Emmaus community opened in Cambridge in 1991. It took a different approach to dealing with homelessness than many other charities, offering the combination of a stable home and meaningful work. This stability, combined with a sense of purpose, gives Emmaus companions, as residents are known, the opportunity to recover their self-respect, which is often decimated when someone is homeless, and deal with their problems in a safe and supportive environment.
Companion Tony Heather explains how Emmaus helped him: “For the last 20 years, on and off, I have spent my time rough sleeping. This was mostly due to abusing alcohol and illegal substances. Four years ago I found a detox program, and now I have found Emmaus. Emmaus has given me a purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. Every day I look forward to it. It makes a huge change to living on the streets and having nothing to wake up for.”
Emmaus Greenwich currently supports 34 people and operates three social enterprises, in Plumstead, Lewisham, and Poplar. The money generated from the social enterprises supports the community, as well as providing meaningful work for companions. Emmaus aims to be able to provide 1,000 companion places across the UK by 2020.
Deputy coordinator, Clare Waghorn said: “Emmaus is all about helping others less fortunate than ourselves. The Solidarity Sale is a great opportunity to support other Emmaus communities, not just in the UK but across the world. It reminds us that we are part of something bigger. ”
Emmaus UK’s President, Terry Waite CBE added: “The way in which the UK movement has grown and been supported over the past 25 years is incredibly humbling. As homelessness continues to rise, each local community has helped to tackle this problem, providing those in need with not just a bed for the night but opportunities to work, contribute to society and change their lives on their own terms. I’m proud of all we have achieved upon this landmark anniversary and encourage you all to attend our celebration events across the country on the 25 June”.