I’m Rob from Raw Home and I am an interior designer and upcycler. Raw Home has been going for 4 years now although it was originally called Lighthouse Interiors. I have a passion for all things “home” related and that includes people.

A home is nothing if there isn’t someone there to enjoy it and that is why my work with Emmaus is really valuable to me as I feel that I am playing a part in the progression of companions back into independent living in a place they can hopefully call home.

One of the things I do that has grown significantly are the workshops on upcycling. I hate the thought of useful items being thrown away and upcycling presents an opportunity to unleash some creative flair and re-imagine objects as something else in a bid to breathe new life into them.

My services include upcycled furniture commissions, lighting design, room design and decoration, styling, certain furniture restoration works, group workshops and live demonstrations. The other big focus for Raw Home is to minimise our impact on the environment through using reclaimed and raw materials wherever possible.

Getting to know Emmaus

My involvement with Emmaus was through a chance encounter with a member of staff from the head office. The person had seen an advert for one of my workshops and made contact with me to discuss some companions coming on the course. The more we spoke the more it became clear that there were an abundance of virtually identical ethical and moral values between our companies so we discussed the possibility of running some workshops purely for Emmaus companions and that is what we have done. Additionally, I have assisted Emmaus with the opening of a new flagship store in Hull city centre.

I love everything about the work I do with the companions and feel like I have built some great friendships. For me, the best thing about working with the companions is seeing them regain some belief and confidence in themselves and their ability. We all have strengths and weaknesses but in times of hardship it can be too easy to think about the things we aren’t so good at rather than what we are good at.

Upcycling workshops

The workshops are something that I really look forward to with the companions as we have a good laugh whilst creating some completely random upcycled pieces. Sometimes the pieces work and sometimes they don’t but that’s part of the fun and the pressure-free environment means that people can go at their own pace.

The companions have a variety of different backgrounds and some are more familiar with tools and processes than others so at times it’s not just me teaching as the companions themselves will show one another how to do something. Skill sharing is a big part of the ethos of the workshops and I really encourage this.

There have been several instances where companions have approached the workshops a bit apprehensively but gone on to create really impressive and interesting upcycled pieces. Many of these have then been sold in the store further generating income for Emmaus and also providing a sense of achievement for the companion as they have taken something considered redundant and turned it around into a saleable item that someone else sees a value in and for me, I feel that actually represents the structure of Emmaus really well.

The best word I could use for the workshops and companion involvement is achievement. For me, I take a great sense of pride in the achievement of the companions and the workshops have also helped me gain confidence as a presenter/teacher.

I feel that the workshops benefit the companions on a number of levels because firstly it is about de-stressing and engaging in a craft that holds no pressure in terms of producing a specific finished article. The freedom of expression and creativity is next on the list and allows companions some down time from the working day to focus on something completely different and allow their creative side to wander.

Finally, the social aspect of the workshop is great as we throw ideas around and people suggest alternatives in terms of design and finish so everyone feels like they are contributing to the overall pieces.

Continuing involvement

Emmaus have welcomed me into their community and I have nothing but respect for how the charity is run. All the staff and companions have made me feel like part of the family and this has allowed for some great relationships to be formed. Small gestures like the offer to sit and have lunch with the companions go along way and are greatly appreciated.

I am honoured to be able to contribute something towards such a fantastic group of people who will no doubt complete their journeys with Emmaus and move onto the next chapter of their lives in a place they can call home.