Charity starts from home, doesn’t it?
Emmaus is a charitable service providing cheap items of furniture, bric-a-brac and general household goods to the community; it is all funded by donations from the community, therefore making the link between the community and Emmaus. Keith Randall says Emmaus is one way it is possible to ‘finance the community’ and strengthen the ‘mutual relationship’ between the community and Emmaus.
Emmaus was founded by Abbe Pierre – a French MP who turned into a priest. For him, keeping people safe was one of his main motives in life. The history of Abbe Pierre is interesting as Emmaus was founded and brought to such a national scale because of him.
Abbe Pierre committed himself into helping others and equality in life. One day, a man called Georges was brought to him after falling out with him family – he was homeless so Abbe Pierre gave Georges shelter in his house. Before this, Pierre was very active in giving homeless women and their children shelter. He didn’t just give Georges shelter; he gave him a job. Pierre asked Georges to deal with building temporary accommodation and he became the first ever companion for Emmaus. At that time, Georges had said “Whatever else he might have given me – money, home, somewhere to work – I’d have still tried to kill myself again. What I was missing, and what he offered, was something to live for.”
Abbe Pierre soon started becoming poorer and poorer, which made him beg on the streets of Paris. The few homeless people he supported stopped him begging, saying it would damage Pierre’s self-respect. Because of this, they started collecting rags and therefore, they founded the basis of what Emmaus has become today.
Now, we see that there are over 33 companions at just one store in the London Borough of Greenwich. These 33 companions are given accommodation above the charity shop; the Greenwich branch also owns two houses where eight companions can be catered for. These companions are asked to work 40 hours a week in various departments including Warehouse, Shop Floor and also Maintenance and Repair in return for shelter. The old message portrayed by Abbe Pierre and Georges is still there as the companions work for accommodation.
Craig, from the Greenwich branch, explained that things had been tough for him and he felt that ‘the heavy weight was on his shoulders’. This is when he came to seek help at Emmaus. After doing so, the ‘weight of the world’ had been lifted and he was finally able to move on in his life. Now, Craig wishes to go on to college and pursue a career in plumbing so he can ‘stand on my own two feet’.
Emmaus will continue to support the less fortunate and keep Abbe Pierre’s idea alive into the future
Keith Randall says “With the help of the community, we will continue to give this service to all companions”. To donate to Emmaus, visit www.emmaus.org.uk/donate.