One of the great things about working at Emmaus Suffolk is that you never lose sight of the people that you are working for, literally. The people that we help, the community that we are building are here together every day. There is no faceless corporate machine, no head office in a faraway place detached from the people we are helping and the people helping us. No one is too important to make their own tea or make tea for anyone else, or help fulfil a café order if they happen to be in the kitchen. And yes, tea is important – we’ll take a Yorkshire if you’re buying.
If you’re old enough to remember, you may be thinking this all sounds a bit too much like the Waltons, a bit too saccharine. Okay, so there are occasional Eastenders style dramas but they blow over as fast as they arrived. Generally, we are one big happy slightly dysfunctional family that solves its problems with a good chat and a cup of tea (disclaimer: this article is not sponsored by the UK Tea Council, we just like tea – especially with a toasted teacake in our Community Café – shameless plug alert).
Our hub at The Dales is always busy, occasionally slightly manic but still manages to be a haven for many. Whether people come to keep themselves busy, combat loneliness or to learn a new skill they always find a willing ear and often in turn become one themselves. We include our customers when we talk about our community as many of them are regulars who visit the café and catch up on all the news and have formed friendships with volunteers and staff.
In the corridor which leads through to the shop we have a mural painted on the wall by one of our volunteers David, and Leah our social worker on placement. It is a tree and the leaves are quotes from volunteers about their feelings and their experiences with us. If you visit us at Dales Road take a minute and read a few, guaranteed to warm your cockles, then sit in the cafe with a cup of that all important tea (other refreshments are available)and see it for yourself.
· It has helped me meet other people and help the community.
· I feel part of a family.
· I have gained a lot of self confidence and self-esteem. I look forward to coming to
work at the shop and feel I am making a difference to others.
· I have more confidence and am socialising.
· There is a great sense of community
· If I make a mistake it doesn’t matter, I am supported in how to do this correctly and
this makes me feel safe and able to move forward.