Emmaus Preston worked together with six other Emmaus communities across the region to create the emotive film, ‘An Introduction to Emmaus North West’. The film features people supported by Emmaus alongside volunteers and staff, speaking about their experiences in communities and social enterprises.

Emmaus is now appealing for public votes to help the film make the final shortlist for The Smiley Charity Film Awards, the world’s biggest campaign to promote cause-based films.

Head of Support Karen Wallis took part in the film alongside Chief Executive Officer Stephen Buchanan. Karen joined Emmaus Preston in 2012 after spending 15 years homeless and in temporary accommodation.

With the space and stability to continue rebuilding her life, Karen was able to progress through several training courses, which resulted in her gaining a support worker role at Emmaus Preston in 2015. In November 2021, Karen was selected as Head of Support, managing Emmaus staff across the whole of Lancashire.

During her time with Emmaus, Karen has been to the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street to lobby Lords and MPs to call for better support for people who want to break the cycle they are in. She also married Dave, whom she lives with outside of the community.

Karen said: “I felt it was important to share what happened to me in this film to show how support from Emmaus turns lives around. Life went from being unbearable, to me wanting to be alive and have a purpose. My husband Dave and I often think about how lucky we are to have a place of our own. Now I’m working in support, I can use my experiences of homelessness to help other people at Emmaus.

“I’d like to thank the film producers and all the people who featured and helped with its production. We hope this film reaches new people and new support for Emmaus. I encourage everyone to watch the film and vote for it in the Charity Film Awards. Voting will help raise awareness of Emmaus and the fantastic work of our communities and groups.”

Award-winning photographic duo Photography by Anderson assisted to produce the film, having previously worked with Emmaus Salford to create a short film in 2021. The film has been entered in the Charity Film Awards where Emmaus supporters and the public can vote to help it reach the final shortlist. Round 1 voting closes on Friday 12 January 2024.

To see the full-length film and vote for it in the Charity Film Awards visit: https://smileycharityfilmawards.com/films/an-introduction-to-emmaus-north-west