To celebrate 30 years since Emmaus was established in the UK, Stoke-on-Trent man Steve Bourn, who was supported by Emmaus North Staffs, recently attended a lunch event at Clarence House, the royal residence of the charity’s royal Patron Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall.

On Wednesday 10 November, Steve was one of 30 people representing Emmaus communities and groups 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.

After a challenging start in life, including a period of homelessness and a battle with drug addiction, Steve (pictured 5th from left) worked hard to rebuild his life. It was at this point that Emmaus North Staffs stepped in to help, offering him a nine-month volunteer placement at our Emmaus Furniture Mine shop in Hanley. This opportunity gave him stability and the chance to learn new skills and grow in confidence until he was ready to return to work. Read Steve’s full story

Speaking about his visit to Clarence House, representing Emmaus North Staffs, Steve said: “My time at Emmaus had a massive part to play in getting me where I am today, so  it was an honour to be invited to this special celebration event. It was especially nice to be able to meet The Duchess; she was very friendly and it meant a lot that she took the time to speak to each person in the room.”

John Webbe, Executive Lead of Emmaus North Staffs (pictured 4th from left), also attended: “It was a very special event and lovely to be in the company of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and such inspiring people from across the UK who have had their lives turned around by Emmaus. It felt great to be there to represent Emmaus North Staffs and the Stoke area. We had a wonderful day that won’t be forgotten.”

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. Together we support more than 850 formerly homeless people by providing a safe home, training, tailored support and meaningful work in a social enterprise.

Emmaus North Staffs works to support local people to move away from poverty, with plans to open up accommodation for formerly homeless people in 2022. We run the Emmaus Furniture Mine shop which specialises in furniture and homeware. We particularly encourages local people with disadvantaged or unconventional backgrounds to volunteer, who might benefit from the experience and sense of routine it offers.