As well as supporting companions to rebuild their lives after homelessness, we show support to other causes, charities and initiatives. For the people who complete solidarity actions, it can also bring many personal benefits to their health, wellbeing and understanding of the world.
The dictionary definition of solidarity is to show support for each other or for another group, especially in political or international affairs.
Solidarity is essentially helping others who are vulnerable or experiencing difficulties. It involves standing together and supporting one another in times of need, without judgement or discrimination. It can be expressed through various actions, such as donations, activism, or volunteering, all aimed at promoting the greater good of society. Solidarity is a powerful force that can inspire positive change.
At Emmaus, solidarity is one of our core values, as the movement began with a single act of solidarity. One night, a man named Georges Legay was brought to Emmaus founder, Abbé Pierre, after a failed suicide attempt. Georges had recently been released from prison and had nowhere to go. He turned to Abbé Pierre for help. Instead, Abbé Pierre offered him the opposite of charity, asking Georges to “help him help others,” by building accommodation for homeless families:
“I have nothing to give you but my friendship and my plea to share in my efforts so that together we can save others. The only true gift is to help another to be able to become a giver in their turn thus creating a wonderful chain, without limits, of sharing and initiation in the reality of love.”
Today, we continue to live by this philosophy and carry out regular acts of solidarity throughout the year for both local and international causes. Our solidarity actions are many and varied. We regularly offer support to anyone sleeping rough or struggling with poverty in London through our Street Souls outreach service, but we also carry out and engage in many one-off events, fundraising and volunteering activities, and donations to people and communities in need.
Street Souls offers support to anyone sleeping rough or struggling with poverty in London. We run two outreach services in the city: Street Souls Westminster and Street Souls Greenwich.
We offer support to anyone who is struggling financially, from families who cannot afford food, retired people experiencing loneliness and social exclusion, to people who are sleeping rough. If you are not sure if this includes you, we encourage you to come along and have a conversation with our friendly team who will be more than happy to help you.
At Emmaus Greenwich, we support people and communities in need by providing Solidarity Furniture Aid to people experiencing furniture poverty in London.
If you need help to furnish your home, your agency worker (e.g. social worker, resettlement officer, medical practitioner) can apply for Solidarity Furniture Aid from Emmaus on your behalf. If your application is successful, you will receive a Solidarity Voucher that you can exchange for a pack of pre-selected items, subject to stock availability.
Our Community Leader Clare and her children did the Eltham Bubble Rush to raise funds for Demelza Children’s Hospice.
We are delighted to support the new Free Library at Lewisham Station with regular donations.
Visit Emmaus Greenwich on Saturday 10 June to bag some bargains and support the wider Emmaus movement.
We are delighted to regularly donate toys to the new toy library at South Rise primary school, our neighbour in Plumstead.
Street Souls Greenwich launched on 9 February 2023, offering vital support to people who are struggling financially in Greenwich.
The impact of solidarity is far-reaching, going beyond the initial act.
Not only does solidarity provide vital support for people experiencing difficulties, but it is also beneficial to those who carry out solidarity actions, as it helps people to feel an inner happiness. For Emmaus companions, taking part in solidarity enables them to give back. This is often key to rebuild feelings of self-worth – as they recognise that everyone has the capacity to make a difference to the life of others, it can help them feel rewarded, fulfilled and empowered.
Acts of solidarity depend on and create bonds that connect neighbours who might have not otherwise interacted. These solidarity bonds strengthen community resilience and establish a network that benefits all through an ethos of ‘paying it forward’. This also creates waves of kindness as people witnessing solidarity acts can feel inspired to take action themselves.
A solidarity economy prioritises social profitability instead of purely financial profits. This term is becoming more and more relevant for our communities, and Emmaus Greenwich’s ethos and system of ‘paying it forward’ offers a taste of what could be achieved if a solidarity economy was implemented on a larger scale.
Darek Karwacki, Solidarity Development Manager at Emmaus Greenwich
“Solidarity is an exchange of selfless actions leaning on real work and an established network that works to build stronger, more resilient communities.”