As we begin a new year, we look back at some of the Emmaus Greenwich solidarity highlights of 2023.
In October 2023, the solidarity team nominated Luli for a Musarat Bahadur Companion Award for all his fantastic work in our Street Souls project. Luli successfully won the award! We want to thank Luli for all his wonderful contributions to Street Souls. He has spent many hours cooking and creating delicious desserts for our guests at Street Souls.
Between July – December 2023, we have provided 649 meals for our Street Souls project, with 11 of our volunteers contributing 87 hours of their time and companions contributing 93 hours. During our sessions, staff supported Guests to contact and connect with other agencies. We’ve referred people to their local council housing offices and linked people with Greenwich Winter Night Shelter. Additionally, we have signposted people to a Citizen’s Advice hub and Cruse Bereavement Services.
In celebration of all the hard work volunteers have put into Street Souls, in early December the solidarity team threw a dinner for our wonderful volunteers. Both Ela and Luli cooked a Turkish spread for volunteers, companions and staff and Clare kindly put together a brilliant quiz for everyone to partake in.
As of the 11th December 2023, we began our #solidaritypoint service at Woolwich Service Users Project (WSUP). We aim to use this space to provide welfare advice, support with IDs, a warm space and the opportunity to connect with other services, including healthcare, housing, family mediation and employment. Moreover, it provides us with the space and time to have more in-depth conversations with those that are seeking advice and support at our Street Souls sessions.
On 29th August, the Satu Mare Emmaus community centre in Romania had its roof ripped off their shop due to the powerful storm. They had sent through a solidarity request to raise another €5,000 to help them in covering the costs of rebuilding the roof. During our Solidarity Committee meeting, one of our companions suggested we do a call-out to other Emmaus communities within the UK to donate 10% of their cash takings as an act of solidarity to Satu Mare.
In total, £2,620.57 was raised for the Satu Mare community and Emmaus Greenwich contributed £810.30. We don’t want this to be our last act of solidarity on an international scale, and together with other communities we’d like to continue actions like these.
Between July – December, we have received 16 Furniture Aid requests and have successfully completed seven deliveries of a total value of £2020. We have been able to refer organisations to local furniture support systems. Most requests included beds, mattresses, cupboards, sofas and tables. Requests have come from a multitude of organisations reaching out from areas including Greenwich, Bexley and Lewisham.
We’ve been able to support those that have been rehomed after fleeing domestic violence, those that previously lived in temporary accommodation and individuals that are on the poverty line and have been offered unfurnished housing. The solidarity team hopes to continue providing our local community with the furniture they need and reducing furniture poverty.
Since the summer, we have provided our local community points with donations from our shops. We have provided Sunrise School, with 18 for-life shopping bags full of toys and five crates of books, and two crates of books to Barring School. We have also continued providing books to Lewisham Train Station library, both for children and adults.
The Emmaus Greenwich Solidarity Sale took place at our Plumstead, Lewisham and Poplar shops in Greenwich, London, on 10 June 2023. We donated 100% of our takings that day to Emmaus International, which will use the funds to carry out solidarity programmes and campaigns across the world.
Lee: 52 transactions, sales total £270
Poplar: 62 transactions, sales total £414
Plumstead: 31 transactions, sales total £1762
Our companions have also participated in solidarity events. At the end of July, two of our companions, Paul and Tony, partook in the Solidarity
Football Tournament in Bosnia. During their time in Bosnia, they had the opportunity to visit historica sites and museums in Sarajevo, Bosnia and
meet other members of Emmaus’ all over Europe. Both said how much they enjoyed the experience and how moved they were by the people and the history of Bosnia.
On the experience, Paul had said, “Amazing. Well worth the trip. Just wow. If I could do it again, I would. It was a great learning curve for me. I’m 54 years old and I learnt a lot more than I’d read in the press whilst there. I was very moved by the whole experience.”
In the run up to Christmas, we ran a stall in Greenwich Market. In total, we were at the market for a total of 13 days. In total, we raised £1,275 at the market. Photographs of the market featured on our Instagram account.
When going into the market stall, we had two main aims in mind. The first being to raise awareness of what Emmaus does, our services and volunteering interests. Secondly, it was to raise money to be used by companions for things such as acquiring a passport or for well-being related matters. We’ve really enjoyed fundraising within our community.
In August, we held a week of co-production with companions. Workshops were run to come up with decisions and ideas on how to support more people what should be done with the funds raised at Greenwich Market and how companion inductions should be made.
Bringing in our workshop skills and structures we’d learnt from co-production week, we ran the workshop at the Emmaus National Assembly.
The question we asked was:
“How might we adapt Solidarity activities to address new challenges.”
With a group of around 40 staff, Companions and Trustees, we worked together in producing both new ideas and sharing initiatives together. Many ideas were shared – the winning ideas were:
It was a great opportunity for companions and staff to get together and discuss how we can improve and increase our actions of solidarity across all Emmaus communities in the UK. Importantly, it provided the space for us encourage unity and collective action.
To upskill, the solidarity team have been partaking in Welfare Rights Trainings in Greenwich. These trainings gave us a better understanding of the welfare rights system. They gave us knowledge and skills that we can bring into our #solidaritypoint sessions. In October, our team attended a workshop with Praxis on the “Responses to the increase in asylum support evictions”. Along with other London-based organisations, we discussed the current responses to the change legislative responses and what we can do better. It was a great opportunity for us to grasp what other organisations are doing and how we can help.
The Solidarity team organised Mediation Skills Training for staff at Emmaus Greenwich and other staff within homelessness prevention teams across Greenwich. Six members of Emmaus Greenwich staff, staff from 999 Club, Woolwich Service Users Project, the Welfare Rights and Housing team at the council attended this training and learnt new skills that they can bring into different aspects of their roles. One of the colleagues said: “I learnt a lot from this interactive day, really interesting and gave me many tools to use in my day to day role. Lots of opportunities to ask questions.”
Our partnership with Woolwich Service User’s Project (WSUP) is growing. We launched our #solidaritypoint with WSUP which now takes place every Mondays at 5pm-8pm, 107 Brookhill Rd, London SE18 6BJ. We are now able to collaboratively provide more support for those in our local community.
We are continuing our collaboration with Woolwich Common Community Centre (WCCC) in administering Street Souls, which is another #solidaritypoint on Thursdays at 6pm-8pm, 17 Leslie Smith Square, London SE18 4DW
We ran our last Street Souls session of the year at Westminster Rochester Road in October 2023, but we hope to relaunch our presence here in March and use it as another #solidairtypoint.
In December, we were successful in being awarded a grant by the National Lottery Community Fund. We will be using this fund to enhance Street Souls service and set up more Solidarity Points in London.
We signed up to Good Food Greenwich Charter and most recently, London Charter to End Rough Sleeping led by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. We work with Greenwich based service such as VIA (drug and alcohol service), GLLaB (employment service), Greenwich Winter Night Shelter and others.
In 2023, we’ve had the pleasure of being supported by local corporations and organisations.
In the Christmas spirit, Claridge’s Hotel added a voluntary £1 donation onto every final bill to go towards Emmaus Greenwich, this raised us £8,594.50. Lloyds Art Exhibition 2023 will also be donating 20% of their sales to us this year. The Lloyds Art Group held the exhibition between 4th-7th December 2023 hosting the work of 64 artists and included our piece in their catalogue. We are very grateful for the support of both Claridge’s Hotel and Lloyds Art Group, and we hope to continue doing great work together.
In response to the change of government policies, a new Solidarity Initiative was proposed – a Homes for Now programme supporting newly granted refugees.
Home for Now is a solidarity economy initiative aimed at making a collective commitment to support people with experience of migration and at risk/affected by homelessness.
Our initiative will provide access to decent, short-term accommodation at Emmaus Greenwich for adults aged 18 and over who can live independently. Length of stay is set at 12 weeks and shared responsibilities with services supporting individuals to resolve their housing matters will be agreed on case–by case basis.
Find out more about Street Souls and our #solidaritypoint initiative here: Street Souls | Emmaus Greenwich | London Homelessness