As you may know, before COVID-19 hit, every week our companions gained work experience and skills by helping to run Emmaus Village Carlton’s Home Store and Bistro.

COVID-19 has put a big financial strain on our charity. Government restrictions and national lockdowns have closed the Home Store to the public three times so far. The most recent closure began in November 2020; it will reopen when it is legal and safe to do so. This latest lockdown just adds to the financial losses. We think we’ll end up losing around £250,000 of trading income due to the pandemic. Despite this, our accommodation and support for formerly homeless companions has continued throughout.

Continuing to support our companions

Our priority is of course the wellbeing of our companions, staff, volunteers and local community. During each lockdown, our companions have stayed at home in our on-site accommodation and we’ve been able to keep most of our bedrooms in use because they each have a separate bathroom.

We’re trying to keep everyone safe, busy, and active, so our staff are still on-hand every day to offer socially distanced support. It’s so important that we maintain everyone’s wellbeing.

Companions have been busy during lockdown, helping to redesign and decorate areas of the Home Store (see photo) as well as getting involved with training. We’ve also continued to sell items on eBay and we’re offering a collection-only takeaway service from our on-site Bistro.

Homelessness on the rise

The work of charities like ours has sadly become even more important as homelessness continues to be a serious concern across the UK. According to the latest government figures, the average age at death of homeless people in 2019 was 46 years for men and 43 years for women, as compared to the general population mean age of 76 years for men and 81 years for women.

Help for local rough sleepers

A group of Emmaus companions regularly volunteers in Bedford and Northampton town centres, offering help to those on the streets. We’ve been heading out most weeks when we can, and even visited Northampton centre on Christmas Day, handing out food and warm clothing whilst ensuring we maintained social distancing. It’s not just the practical stuff – people need someone to talk to. Loneliness is a big factor of the pandemic; even if you have somewhere to sleep, if you’re on your own you might just need a listening ear.

Although these visits to Northmapton (we call it the Rucksack Stomp) have temporarily paused during the latest lockdown, the group is eager to restart as soon as it is safe to do so.

Appeal for help

With no way of knowing exactly when the current closure will end, we’ve re-launched our COVID-19 fundraising appeal, to help keep the charity going.

We were so touched by the generosity of many local people who responded to our special COVID-19 fundraising appeal last time. We know it’s tough for everyone at the moment, but any financial donation you can spare will help us through this difficult time and will help Emmaus Village Carlton continue its vital work during the current COVID-19 emergency and beyond.

You can support Emmaus Village Carlton’s emergency appeal by donating online today.

Thanks again for your continued support – stay safe.