In 2020 we opened our first Community House in Cromer Road, Ipswich. This house provides accommodation for up to three residents who have previously experienced homelessness, have been insecurely housed or have been at risk of homelessness.
Our model is different to other Emmaus communities around the UK, where companions sign off of all benefits, with the exception of Housing Benefit, and live within a supported community. In return they volunteer full time in an Emmaus social enterprises.
Instead, people living within our Community House receive support to live as independently as possible. They can claim Universal Credit and are responsible for managing their own budgets, paying their bills and shopping and cooking for themselves. They still receive support from the Emmaus Suffolk team, but we do not have a staff member living on-on site. Our companions volunteer up to 15 hours a week in our social enterprises, giving them hands on experience, training and a supportive environment in which they can reach their full potential.
The aim of our Community House is to provide a stepping stone to help people rebuild their lives and move on to live and work completely independently. But, like at all Emmaus communities around the UK, there is no time limit on the support offered, and our tenants can stay for as long as they want to.
The Community House is owned by The Flagship Group and kindly leased to us at a reduced rate. Besides helping secure the property, Flagship Group provided renovation work through RFT, it’s repairs and maintenance arm. RFT donated £18k worth of improvements to the house to bring it up to standard. This includes a new kitchen, bathroom and shower room, and full decoration throughout. The property has new carpets, courtesy of Archway Carpets of Woodbridge.