Emmaus is a homeless charity based in the UK. Since 1991 the charity has opened 29 residential sites around the country. Currently they are supporting 850 formerly homeless people.
Emmaus is different to many homeless charities as they do not help people for just one night and one meal. They provide support, a home, food, and meaningful work training for as long as it is needed.
Instead of labelling residents as homeless Emmaus instead refers to them as companions. This is because, when they enter the Emmaus community they are treated as supported family members. Emmaus companions get a room of their own, food, clothing, and a small weekly allowance. In return each community asks for the following in return:
- That companions work for 40 hours per week or, give as much time as they can to the community’s social enterprise (café, boutique shop, cleaning services etc.)
- That they behave respectfully towards each other
- That no alcohol or illegal drugs are consumed on the premises
- That they sign off all benefits, except for housing benefit
Although they understand that living in a community environment isn’t for everyone, they have found it builds companionship that many people who have experienced homelessness have lost. It is often key to helping someone start to regain a sense of control and stability in their lives.
South Wales is home to an Emmaus community, it is the first and only one in Wales. As well as a housing community it is home to multiple donation stores. At the stores you will find everything from pre-loved furniture to clothes and toys, all money made goes directly to helping companions in Emmaus communities.
How to help people experiencing homelessness
As the months get colder our thoughts turn to those who will be struggling to stay warm. It can be difficult to know how we can make the greatest positive impact on those who need it which is why we have put together some recommendations we believe could help make a difference.
1. Make cards to promote nearby services
Do some research and find out what services are available to those who need it. Note down the location of the services, what they specifically offer and how much the service is. You can then give these cards to people you see who may need the information.
Charities and organisations are always needing clothes whether they be new or used. Personal hygiene items such as underwear and socks are always in high demand from homeless shelters so perhaps you could include new sets of these with your donation. As well as clothing, cleaning products and everyday essentials such as soap and toothpaste are welcomed at many donation points. Social media is a powerful tool so use it, share what you are doing and encourage others to do the same!
3. Volunteer your time
Most homeless shelters and organisations will be happy to welcome assistance. Whatever you are capable of will be plenty and it will be appreciated not just by the other staff members but also those who you are helping.
To find out more about how you can help support those that are homeless and learn more about Emmaus in South Wales click here.