Labour’s Shadow Minster for Climate Change, Kerry McCarthy MP, has visited Emmaus Bristol to meet companions and tour the site.

The event provided an opportunity to demonstrate Emmaus’s impact and highlight Emmaus UK’s work on influencing housing policy. Jessica Hodge, CEO of Emmaus Bristol, spoke about the community’s work supporting people away from homelessness. Sam Dalton, Emmaus UK’s Policy, Campaigns and External Affairs Manager, explained how Emmaus is helping to shape the implementation of the government’s Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act.

The vital role of Emmaus

Ms McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, is working on Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, international climate change, and issues including the circular economy, green finance, energy bills and nature-based solutions.

Speaking about her visit to Emmaus Bristol, she said: “It was great to visit Emmaus and see first-hand the excellent work they do, as well as meeting some of their companions.

“Given the scale of Bristol’s housing crisis, the role they play in helping vulnerable people find homes and live independently is vital. It’s also good to see how important sustainability is to Emmaus, encouraging reuse and refurbishment, and training people in the skills we need in the circular economy.”

Environmental and social impact

During the visit, Ms McCarthy learned how Emmaus helps break the cycle of homelessness by enabling people to rebuild their lives by providing accommodation, training, and work opportunities.

She met with Emmaus Bristol resident Abdurrahman who spoke about his recent upcycling work. He said: “I showed Kerry a bench I’ve been upcycling and will soon paint red. It was a good feeling showing an MP something I’ve made. I also got to tell her about the carpentry course I’m doing with some other companions.”

Ms McCarthy also toured Emmaus Bristol’s second-hand shop, eco holiday pods, warehouse, eBay office, and recycling yard. This showcased the community’s environmental impact by promoting re-use and sustainability through the collection and sale of donated items.

Jessica Hodge said: “It was lovely to welcome Kerry to Emmaus Bristol to showcase our environmental work. Kerry took our e-cargo bike for a spin and we toured the warehouse to see the sorting, selling and upcycling that goes on there.

“We were also proud to demonstrate the importance of providing supported housing in a person-centred way so that support can be tailored to the individual, helping them to move on in a secure way when they are ready.”

Emmaus stands ready

Emmaus UK is influencing the implementation of the Supported Housing Act which went through Parliament in August 2023 to raise standards and quality in different types of supported housing, including homelessness accommodation.

Sam said: “It was great to speak with Kerry about the important role of the Supported Housing Act in bringing in national standards, and how we can assist this work at Emmaus. With 30 different communities in all corners of the country, we stand ready to help Parliament make the implementation of the Act as effective as possible.”

Jessica added: “Here at Emmaus Bristol, we welcome regulation to raise standards in supported housing as we already deliver supported housing to a very high standard, but we are aware that some in the sector do not. However, with regulation comes expense that will need to be properly funded otherwise it will affect our ability to support people out of homelessness.”

To find out more about the work of Emmaus on the Supported Housing Act, visit here.

Read more about Emmaus Bristol or find your local Emmaus.