Dear Friends of Emmaus,

I write to you today to say thank you for your support in recent months.  The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone, especially in the charity sector. When the country first went into lockdown, we were faced with two major challenges:

  1. How to provide support to our companions with our staff confined to their homes?
  2. How to sustain our community with zero income from our shops?

The answer to the first question was simple: we adapted. One of our support workers chose to live onsite to ensure our companions had someone to go to in times of need. We changed the format of our free counselling service, moving to phone-based sessions. We bought in extra cleaning materials, acquired more PPE, and ensured the food cupboards were always full. In many ways, things weren’t so different. Our companions knew they were properly supported in the community that is their home.

Unfortunately, the meaningful daily activity in our shops was gone. Undaunted, our companions kept themselves busy on site. Several local companies donated gardening supplies, and a cohort of companions worked very hard upgrading the grounds. I’ve worked at Emmaus for a long time and I’ve never seen our community gardens looking so lovely!  We now have a deck made from old pallets, a small flower garden and a vegetable patch. We even have animal ornaments, which appear to move around by themselves in the dead of night…

The complete lack of income from our shops was of course a massive challenge. We didn’t know at the start how long lockdown would last, and we rely on revenue from the shops to fund our service. Fortunately, we received a Business Interruption Grant from the government, together with generous donations and grants from many, sometimes unexpected, sources.

As time went by however, our resources began to dwindle.  We were delighted therefore to be given the green light to re-open our shop in Chatham on 15th June.

It was a big operation to get the shop ready to reopen.  The new rules around collecting and storing donated furniture complicated our working day, and we obviously had to spend more time and money on cleaning.  We also had to invest in PPE which we had never done before.

I’m delighted to report however that since we reopened the shop, we have exceeded all expectations, both in terms of donations of furniture, and sales income.

So I say a huge ‘Thank You’ for helping to put us on a solid footing as we move forward. Please keep giving, please keep buying, your generosity and kindness keep us going, literally!

Yours sincerely

Chris Francis

Director of Operations