Often, the view people have of someone experiencing homelessness in the UK is of a person sleeping in a shop doorway or on a park bench, but there are also huge numbers of people staying with friends or sofa-surfing. This is the side of homelessness in the UK we might not see, but it can have just as devastating an impact on the lives of the people going through it.

Why do people become homeless in the UK?

There are many reasons that people can become homeless. We asked some of our companions for the circumstances that led to their homelessness.

The main factor that contributed to Emmaus companions becoming homeless was relationship breakdown. For younger companions, it was being asked to leave home by their parents.

Other factors that had a big impact were losing their home, losing their job, problems with drugs and alcohol and mental health issues.

What support is available?

Much of the support that is available is only able to provide a bed for the night and a hot meal, but the next morning they are back on the streets again. This doesn’t necessarily give the individual the opportunity to address the root cause of their homelessness and find a long term way to overcome it.

This is where Emmaus is different. We don’t just offer a bed for the night. We offer a home for as long as someone needs it, as well as opportunities for meaningful work in our social enterprises.

This opportunity, to become part of a community and make a contribution to it, plays an important role in restoring self-esteem and helping companions to find a way to overcome homelessness in the long term.