To celebrate 30 years since Emmaus was established in the UK our volunteer John Gall, who was helped out of homelessness by Emmaus, attended a lunch event at Clarence House, the royal residence of our charity’s royal Patron Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall.

On Wednesday 10 November, John  (pictured right) was one of 30 people who have been supported by Emmaus communities across the UK, to be invited to the lunch with The Duchess, and to share with her how the charity has made a difference to his life. Read John’s full story.

John has a lifelong connection to Emmaus. After his wife sadly passed away, John turned to drink to cope, which led to a battle with alcoholism and eventually a long period of homelessness. Emmaus gave him accommodation, support and the opportunity for meaningful work experience, until he was ready to rebuild his life. John subsequently worked for Emmaus for many years in various roles, including helping to establish Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland in Hinckley. Now retired, John continues this support, volunteering to help run our eBay shop.

Speaking about his visit to Clarence House, representing Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland, John said: “We were honoured to be invited to Clarence House, which is a beautiful place. It was a really good day and it was especially nice to be able to speak to The Duchess. It was touching that she made the effort to talk to each person in the room. For everyone, but especially for those who have been through homelessness and are rebuilding their lives, it was a special opportunity to meet Her Royal Highness and celebrate the work of Emmaus.”

The event was part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of Emmaus in the UK, reflecting on what the charity has achieved in the past three decades. Originating in France, the first Emmaus community in the UK opened in 1991; there are now 29 across the country, including Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland which opened in 2012. Together we support more than 850 formerly homeless people by providing a safe home, training, tailored support and meaningful work in a social enterprise.

Charlotte Talbott, CEO of Emmaus UK said “We are extremely grateful to Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and the staff at Clarence House for hosting a fantastic celebration event. Countless lives have been transformed in Emmaus communities and groups over the past 30 years and it was important to be able to bring some of those people together, along with their guests, to mark this important point in our history. It was a great day and a fitting tribute, and I look forward to seeing Emmaus reach even more people over the next 30 years!”