Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney is celebrating after being awarded £10,000 in lottery funding for its ‘Fire and Ice’ food project.

Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney provides a home for up to 23 people for as long as they need it and the opportunity to gain new skills in its Old Orchard Café and charity shops in Ditchingham and Bungay. Residents of the charity live in a communal setting, receive support to rebuild their lives, work together to sell donated items to raise funds for the community, and eat their meals together.

The Emmaus community is looking to increase footfall to its site, with the ‘Fire and Ice’ project aiming to develop the current food offer for both residents and the wider public. The long-term project will involve upgrading the charity’s community kitchen into a commercial kitchen, refurbishing a donated vintage ice-cream van to offer homemade ice-creams to the public, and eventually opening a public restaurant, bakery and farm shop.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the grant will enable the charity to purchase a new dishwasher, ice cream makers, chest freezer, commercial oven, and a single deck oven.

Eamon Moore, a current resident at Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, spent many years working as a professional chef in London and Hertfordshire before suffering with mental health issues and becoming homeless. Eamon, who is now a resident at Emmaus and the main chef in the community, said:

“A few factors led me to become homeless; two relationship breakdowns, family problems, and a struggle with my mental health. When life really began to take a toll on me, I had a psychotic break. I was hospitalised and after being discharged I went on to spend two years between temporary accommodation and sleeping rough. Life kept getting lower and lower before I found Emmaus.

“The first day I arrived here, the staff showed me the kitchen and left me to it. I’m now in the kitchen every day doing what I love, cooking for people. To me, it isn’t a job and if I can give back to the community by giving them really good food then that’s all that matters. I currently struggle to cook for the community on two very slim old ovens and our donated dishwasher can no longer meet the demands of our community. I’m excited about this grant and a new kitchen to cook in.”

Cecile Roberts, Chief Executive at Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, said:

“At Emmaus, we are passionate about food and our kitchen is the heart of our community. Often when people arrive with us they have not been eating well, or consistently. The ability to eat well and learn how to prepare great food for themselves and others is an essential part of the rehabilitation our community offers, and this funding will support both. We hope that, as this project develops, the public will be encouraged to visit our site, treat themselves to a homemade ice-cream, and join us for a meal, all while supporting our work in helping people to rebuild their lives following homelessness. On behalf of everyone at Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, I would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund and all National Lottery players for making this happen.”

The National Lottery Awards for All uses funds raised by National Lottery players for good causes. It’s thanks to them that The Big Lottery Fund gives out more than £500,000 million to charities, community and voluntary groups each year.

Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney are currently fundraising for its ‘Fire and Ice’ food project. If you want to support the charity or find out more about the project, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thebellyofemmaus.