One of the most important parts of the Emmaus ethos is solidarity. This means working to help someone less fortunate than yourself.
Emmaus founder, Abbé Pierre, encouraged everyone to ‘serve first those most in need’ and we continue to try and live by this, ensuring that any surplus our social enterprise makes is used to support people less fortunate than us.
This can be very valuable for Emmaus companions as it is often key to helping to rebuild self-esteem, proving that everyone has the capacity to make a difference to the lives of others.
What acts of solidarity does Emmaus Hertfordshire do?
Each winter, we hold an annual rucksack appeal to help rough sleepers during the coldest months of the year, asking the local community to get involved by donating essential winter items. These items are then distributed to rough sleepers by staff, volunteers and companions from Emmaus Hertfordshire and our friends at HACRO.
Our shops sell second-hand, low-cost goods, and offer a further discount to those on low incomes, but as the cost of living crisis deepens, increasing numbers of people are unable to afford to buy home essentials, even second-hand. In conjunction with a range of partner agencies, we support those in need by providing them with the items they need for setting up the home they deserve.
Our community has been moved to help those across the world fleeing war and persecution. Through partnerships with organisations supporting refugees, we have helped to get much-needed items to those without access to shelter from the elements, basic sanitation or health facilities, adequate food, clothing or other daily essentials.
In January 2018, Emmaus Hertfordshire teamed up with Care4Calais, who provide direct aid to refugees living in the worst conditions across France and Belgium, to act as a central hub for receiving and transporting donations from across the country to Calais. Staff and companions made regular trips over a number of years, between 2018-2020, to the camps in Calais, taking aid to those in desperate need.
Herts for Refugees
Our work supporting the refugees in Calais continued last summer when a team of companions and staff supported Herts for Refugees with their Boomtown Festival Salvage event. Together, we worked hard to save abandoned tents and sleeping bags left after the Boomtown Festival in Hampshire in 2022, which went on to be sent to refugees in need in Calais.
We loved being able to get stuck in, collecting much needed items for displaced people, and save more waste going to landfill – so much so that we’re doing it again this summer at the Isle of Wight Festival which runs from 15 to 18 June!
Each year, our companions are encouraged to get involved with charity fundraisers for local charities. So far we have participated in muddy obstacle courses, marathons, bike rides, an abseil and have a Race for Life charity run scheduled this summer! All of these money-spinning events help local charities and boost the self-esteem of our companions who can see just how much they can now contribute to society.
We actively work to forge long term partnerships with other local organisations to extend our support to as many socially excluded and vulnerable people as possible.
We’re proud to be long-standing partners of HACRO (Hertfordshire Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders), a fantastic charity which helps people in Hertfordshire with criminal records to turn their lives around.
We welcome participants in the HACRO scheme to our workshop once a week, giving them valuable hands-on work experience and helping to build their skills, confidence and re-build their self-esteem. They then have the satisfaction of seeing their items being sold in-store, not only enriching the lives of the customers who buy them, but also the lives of those who benefit from Emmaus.
Every year since 2020, we have given space at our site to St Albans homelessness charity Open Door for their Winter Beds Project, which our companions then help to run. Open Door works to ensure that no one needs to sleep rough in St Albans.
The Winter Beds Project provides people who would otherwise be rough sleeping in the freezing weather, with self-contained sleeper cabins. Each cabin provides secure accommodation with heating, electricity and en-suite facilities. Guests of the project are supported to move on to secure accommodation by the rough sleeper outreach team.
We work closely with the Recover Team in Welwyn Garden City who offer vulnerable adults new fulfilment and purpose through their upcycling workshops. These are regularly attended by our companions who transform tired donated items into stunning pieces of furniture that Recover can then sell to fund their work.
As well as learning new skills at Recover, our companions experience mental health benefits from doing something creative and build self-esteem seeing their work raise vital funds for another charity – bringing benefits on so many different levels.
Electric Umbrella creates amazing live music experiences with learning disabled people and in doing so, they help change the way the world looks at their community, and others.
In 2020 we supported the charity by collecting and stored 5 pianos, which were then painted bright yellow and delivered, by our companions, to locations across Watford, to be enjoyed and played by the public!
In 2021 we acted as donation points, in support of their wildly successful 1000 instruments challenge, which saw people from all over the country donate their unwanted musical instruments.
If you’re interested in a partnership with us, we’d love to help out! Get in touch with [email protected]