Emmaus Gloucestershire supports formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to get themselves back on their feet again.
For many people who experience homelessness, one of the biggest obstacles they must overcome is a loss of self-esteem. Emmaus provides an opportunity to regain this, with a chance to make a real contribution to their community.
Emmaus communities are not hostels for the homeless; they provide a home for as long as someone needs it. For many, this support and stability is like the family they don’t have, providing a safe environment in which to settle and re-build their lives. Often this is an opportunity to overcome issues such as addiction, get support with mental health issues or rebuild relationships with estranged family.
Social enterprise is central to the Emmaus model as it provides meaningful work for companions but also generates funding to maintain communities. Companions living in Emmaus communities are expected to sign off all benefits, with the exception of housing benefit, which is used to help support the community. The rest of the funding that is needed is generated through social enterprise and fundraising.
Emmaus communities deliver a significant return on investment. Research shows that for every £1 invested in a community, there is an £11 social, environmental and economic return, with savings to the benefit bill, health services and a reduction in crime.
Emmaus is an international movement of people working together to support and relieve those who are suffering from exclusion, oppression and exploitation. Emmaus is a charity that gives back. One of the most important parts of the Emmaus ethos is solidarity.
In Emmaus, solidarity means working to help someone less fortunate than yourself.
This can be very valuable for Emmaus companions as it is often key to helping to rebuild self-esteem, proving that everyone has the capacity to make a difference to the lives of others.
At Emmaus Gloucestershire our most well-known solidarity activity was our soup run, which we did every Wednesday evening in Gloucester city centre. This became a companion-led activity, with the team distributing hot and cold food, sleeping bags, coats and essential items to people sleeping rough or living in temporary accommodation. During the pandemic, we had to adapt the way we offer this support and found that working with local organisations to distribute items meant that we could reach those most in need. Whilst we no longer do our weekly soup run, we do still require items to distribute to people sleeping rough and through our partner organisations.
We recycle and up-cycle goods to protect our planet for future generations. These items are sold in our charity shops, and online, to generate funds to run and grow our community.