An Emmaus Preston staff member has spoken in front of a group of MPs at Westminster about her experience of homelessness.
On Wednesday 25 January, Karen Wallis, originally from Southport, visited the Houses of Parliament to share her experiences with a group of MPs and Lords including the Bishop of Rochester. Karen spoke at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness (APPGEH) inquiry session on how to prevent prison leavers from becoming homeless.
Karen has turned her life around after previously spending time in prison and experiencing homelessness. After receiving support from Emmaus Preston, she now works at the charity helping others break the homeless cycle and move on to independent living.
Karen, Deputy Support Manager at Emmaus Preston, said: “Amongst the issues discussed were how little help prisoners received with securing a home whilst in prison and councils being unable, or unwilling, to help due to lack of priority need. I also raised the issue that some people do not want to return to their home towns after prison – especially if they are keen to make a fresh start and avoid getting back in with people who are a bad influence.”
The APPGEH inquiry session allowed MPs to hear from, and put their questions to, a panel of experts and people who have experienced both the prison system and homelessness. Karen was one of four speakers at the session and others included a representative from NACRO and Deputy Prison Governor, and a representative from a local council.
Stephen Buchanan, Director of Emmaus Preston, said: “Karen did a fantastic job of highlighting issues from her own personal experience and through her role in supporting other homeless people. I hope the outcomes from this session and subsequent APPGEH report will result in positive changes to prison policies to reduce the number of prison leavers becoming homeless.”
Emmaus Preston supports formerly homeless people by providing them with a stable home and meaningful work for as long as they need it. The charity operates a range of social enterprises including four shops selling donated furniture, white goods, clothes, bikes and household items.
To find out more and support Emmaus Preston head to www.emmaus.org.uk/preston. If you would like to get involved or donate an item, please call 01772 796622 or visit the Emmaus Preston Megastore on Brookfield Street or Deepdale Mill Street Superstore.