Terry Waite CBE has visited Leeds to join beneficiaries, volunteers, trustees, staff and supporters of Emmaus Leeds in celebrating our 15th anniversary.

The Anniversary Celebration evening took place Friday 2 November at the Emmaus Leeds community building on St Mary’s Street. Special guest Terry Waite CBE, President of Emmaus UK, spoke about the development of the charity and how it has helped homeless people become companions of Emmaus and move forward with their lives.

Terry Waite CBE, President of Emmaus UK, said: “Over fifteen years ago I travelled to Leeds to look at a building which it was hoped might become a residential centre for Emmaus companions. During the past years I have visited the community many times. It was good for me when, the other night, I returned to Emmaus Leeds to join in the celebrations. The companions expressed real pleasure at what had been achieved. Volunteers and supporters, as well as people new to the movement, really enjoyed the evening. Well done Emmaus Leeds.”

Emmaus Leeds supports 26 formerly homeless people by providing them with a stable home and meaningful work for as long as they need it. The charity opened its doors in 2003 and has since supported more than 430 people who have experienced homelessness.

David, a former beneficiary of Emmaus Leeds, spoke at the event about how the charity had helped him gain skills and experience to live independently.

David, former Emmaus Leeds companion, said: “Emmaus helped me work on my trust issues and find things within myself which I thought I had lost forever, I feel like a better person. Emmaus communities are like a family and we look after each other through good times and bad. I will always be thankful to all the staff and companions for helping me to get to this point in my life, giving me a chance when nobody else would.”

The event celebrated the past, present and future of Emmaus Leeds, their community building on St Mary’s Street, formerly St Charles School, and the people who support the charity. As well as talks from beneficiaries, artist Ellie Harrison curated an exhibition of images and displays from the building’s past.

There was a also a charity raffle with prizes donated by Kendell’s Bistro, Ego Hair Studio, Emmaus Leeds, Hannah’s Bakes, Kill for a Seat Comedy, Leeds Brewery, Leeds Playhouse, Nando’s, The Reliance and Wild Bloom Designs.

Donald Forester, Chief Executive of Emmaus Leeds, said: “It was a real pleasure to celebrate Emmaus Leeds’ birthday with our current community, friends, supporters and past companions. This landmark anniversary is a fantastic achievement for all the people who have contributed to Emmaus Leeds’ development and we are determined to continue to grow in order to help even more people faced with homelessness.”

Emmaus Leeds has its main community building and social enterprise on St Mary’s Street. The charity also has a shop in Halton and a stall at Kirkgate Market. All the proceeds from these shops are used to support formerly homeless people who are members of the Emmaus Leeds community.

Find out more about the work of Emmaus Leeds. For more information, to donate an item or get involved as a volunteer call 0113 248 4288 or visit Emmaus Leeds at St Mary’s Street, Leeds, LS9 7DP.