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Homeless charity gives people a second chance

By Ffion Harris

The Emmaus charity provides homeless people with a home and work — usually collecting, sorting and reselling donated furniture and household goods.

They support over 850 people who have experienced homelessness and provide them with support, a home for as long as they need it; and work and training in their social enterprises.

The Emmaus shop in Porthcawl

A spokesperson for the charity said: “A lot of the support that is available is only able to provide a bed for the night and a meal, but the next morning they are often back on the streets again.

“This means that the individual can’t find opportunities to overcome their homelessness.

“That’s where we are different because we offer a home for as long as someone needs it, as well as work and a chance to be a part of our community.

“We know that living in a community isn’t for everyone, but it does help to offer the companionship and support that many people who have experienced homelessness have lost. It helps people to have stability in their lives again.”

When a person joins the Emmaus community, they are given their own room, clothing, food and drink, as well as a small weekly allowance. They can stay as long as they need to as long as they follow the rules, such as not bringing drugs or alcohol onto the premises and volunteer at the charity’s social enterprises.

One of the rooms in the Emmaus South Wales accommodation

Michelle, who uses Emmaus’ South Wales services said: “I was a shell of a person when I came to Emmaus, but they helped me to change my life. I had spent two years sofa-surfing and was on anti-depressants.

“I was at rock bottom.

“I knew I needed to get my life back on track. When I joined Emmaus South Wales, I didn’t know what I was walking into. I was the third female in the community, and I was made to feel so welcome. I started working in the Tremains store and now I’m like a different person.

“The charity helped me to overcome my grief and I have been anti-depressant free for almost a year. I have met some great people here and I never feel lonely anymore. I lost my family but I consider all the other companions at Emmaus as family and that means the world to me.

“Emmaus South Wales saved my life and I will never forget what this place has done for me.”

The Emmaus South Wales accommodation

Emmaus also offers volunteering roles to people who just want to help the community. Many of the Emmaus shops in South Wales rely on volunteers to help and are often advertising for them.

Rob, who is one of the volunteers, shared his story about being a volunteer at Emmaus.

“I love volunteering at Emmaus because you meet people with the same ethics and all the staff members, companions and other volunteers are extremely welcoming and friendly. My main thing with volunteering somewhere is that you get on with the people and I definitely do here.

“Working alongside the companions, who are all being supported by Emmaus South Wales, is brilliant too. A lot of people think that Emmaus is just shops and don’t know about the community side of the charity and how they are supporting people who have been homeless. Everyone at Emmaus is working towards the same goal and volunteers really become part of the Emmaus community.

“One of the main things I’ve taken from the role so far is building my confidence. I can see myself volunteering at Emmaus South Wales for the foreseeable future and would love to even work from the charity one day. For anyone thinking about volunteering at Emmaus, I’d say go for it. It’s an enjoyable place to volunteer and a great opportunity to make new friends. If you are someone like me that hasn’t socialised in a while, it can really do you the world of good.”

The charity’s ambition by 2025 is to provide a home for 1,100 people, support 100,000 people a year through acts of solidarity and be 75% self-funded through companion-led social enterprises.

For more information about Emmaus click here

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