Emmaus Hampshire invited Terry Waite CBE, the President of Emmaus UK, to explain the benefits of having an Emmaus project in Hampshire to help homeless people by making them independent of the state.
Sir George said that, following the closure of Beechwood Lodge in Basingstoke two years ago, there was clearly a problem in and around the town, with existing facilities unable to cope. "When I was Housing Minister, I visited Emmaus Cambridge and was impressed by what I saw. It is a successful model and I believe it could help many people in the County."
The meeting was chaired by Alison Thompson, Chair of the Trustees of Emmaus Hampshire, and addressed by Charlie Jordan who had helped set up Emmaus in Brighton. He explained the hurdles that had to be cleared before a project could be set up - principally finding a suitable site or building, and putting together a team of motivated local people.
About seventy people attended the meeting including representatives of local authorities, Primary Care trusts, the Church and voluntary organisations.
What is Emmaus?
Emmaus offers the homeless:
a place to live and work
a chance to restore self respect
independence from state benefits
The Emmaus movement was born in post-war France when the Abbe Pierre, a priest, member of Parliament, and former resistance worker, began sharing his presbytery with the homeless and encouraged them to recycle and sell things that others threw away. There are now over 380 self-supporting Emmaus communities in 44 countries.
Why is it called Emmaus?
Emmaus is a secular organization, but its name is taken from a town in the New Testament where two disciples met the resurrected Christ and received new hope and purpose. The Abbe Pierre used this name as a symbol in his first house for the homeless.
Emmaus in the UK
The first community opened near Cambridge in July 1992 . The Coventry community opened in June 1994, Greenwich in November 1994, Dover and Belfast in 1996, Brighton and Manchester in 1997. Gloucester, StAlbans and Carlton (Bedfordshire) hope to open their doors this year. There are 15 Emmaus groups around the country trying to establish communities in their area, from Glasgow to Plymouth. Approximately 300 people a week are being turned away from existing communities through lack of space.
How does Emmaus Work?
The aim is to provide Communities for the homeless which support themselves through a variety of trading activities, such as the collection and resale of household goods and bric-a-brac; the refurbishment and repair of furniture, bicycles and electrical goods; recycling; furniture making and gardening services.
Emmaus communities work on the following basic principles:
they are open to anyone irrespective of background or belief
drink, drugs or violence are not allowed
members work to the best of their obility in return for food, shelter, clotHng and a modest cash allowance for personal needs. They do not receive welfare benefit
there is no commitment as to length of stay
once set up, each Community aims to support itself by its own efforts
the Communities help others in need
There is a local group keen to establish a Community in Hampshire and anyone interested in being involved either as a Trustee or simply as a 'Friend¡¦ should contact:
Alison Thompson, Emmaus Wharf House, Domum Road, Winchester S023 9NQ
Tel 01962 854416
email: Alisorrell@aol. com
Web http://www. emmaus.org.uk
Reg. Charity No. 03783294