Work to open an Emmaus community in Hampshire started in the early 2000s.

After moving to Winchester, Alison Thompson MBE worked at the Trinity Day Centre for some years and, as a result, became very aware of the issue of homelessness locally. Learning of the national and international Emmaus movement, she dedicated herself to the creation of a local Emmaus community.

Emmaus origins

Emmaus began in France shortly after the Second World War, when homelessness was a big issue. The first Emmaus community was founded in Paris in 1949. After the launch of the first, more Emmaus communities and groups were established and the Emmaus movement now has more than 400 groups in over 40 countries.

Emmaus arrives in the UK

The first Emmaus community in the UK came out of one man’s realisation that what people who experience homelessness wanted was self-respect and not handouts. Emmaus Cambridge opened in 1991 and in turn, this community supported other new Emmaus communities in the UK.

The opening of more Emmaus communities quickly followed, and they now stretch from Glasgow to Dover. Although part of a national federation and international movement, no two Emmaus communities are the same – each is an independent charity, providing services to meet the needs of people within their area.

Emmaus Hampshire history

From 2001 to 2013, Alison chaired the team that worked towards the goal of establishing an Emmaus community in Hampshire. New trustees and volunteers got involved who shared Alison’s vision and ambition. In 2003, negotiations opened with Hampshire County Council for the lease of a site in Winchester that would be suitable for our residential community and social enterprise operations. The lease was signed in 2006 with £3 million needing to be raised in the following two years in order to secure the site.

The team worked tirelessly to raise the necessary funds and local support needed to secure the site, develop site plans and commence the building work. The Emmaus Hampshire residential community officially opened in 2009 with 23 bedrooms and shared communal spaces. In the following years, more bedrooms were added to enable even more people with experience of homelessness to benefit from Emmaus Hampshire’s unique model of support.

The Emmaus Hampshire history is still being written, by our current community members along with the people and organisations who support us. Read on to learn more about our charity and how you can help us to write our next chapter.


Our purpose built community...

Construction work starts
Our community building takes shape
Construction progresses throughout 2008
Green roof added
Companion bedroom
Sustainable building features