Formerly homeless people supported by Emmaus Leeds are celebrating the value of community as part of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) takes place from Monday 18 to Sunday 24 May 2020. This year’s theme focuses on the power and potential of ‘kindness’.

Being part of both an Emmaus community and the local Leeds community gives beneficiaries of the charity an opportunity to make new friends, get involved in positive activities and contribute to wider society.

Simon is one of the formerly homeless people supported by Emmaus Leeds. “Before joining Emmaus Leeds I spent two years going bankrupt, which was incredibly tough. I lost my business, my house, my car – I lost everything.”

Simon added: “When you’ve had your own home and life, becoming homeless means you have to become reliant on the benevolence of other people. At Emmaus it’s not seen as that – you come in as an equal, you work and contribute to the best of your ability and you’re valued as an individual. The support network of Emmaus helps you look to the future and start again.”

Support within a community

Emmaus Leeds supports 26 formerly homeless people by providing them with a home, support, training and work in a community setting. The charity runs a social enterprise in the city, selling donated furniture, household goods, clothes and vintage wares.

Unlike many other homelessness charities, Emmaus Leeds offers a home for as long as someone needs it. Living in a community can provide the companionship and support that many people who have experienced homelessness have lost.

Donald Forrester, Donald Forrester, Chief Executive of Emmaus Leeds, said: “Giving people an opportunity to thrive within a supportive community is central to our approach. Here at Emmaus Leeds we encourage people to be kind to themselves, be kind to the community of people around them and carry out acts of kindness in the local area. These actions help to rebuild self-esteem, proving that everyone has the capacity to make a difference to the lives of others.”

To find out more about Emmaus Leeds visit

As part of MHAW, the charity, Mental Health Foundation, is encouraging everyone to share stories of kindness on social media during the week using the tags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. For more information visit