Emmaus is a homelessness charity providing more than just a bed for the night to people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion.
We provide a home for as long as someone needs it and meaningful work in our social enterprise. Living in a stable environment with the opportunity to work helps our companions, as residents are known, to regain lost self-esteem and the confidence to get back on their feet.
How it works
There are currently 29 Emmaus communities across the UK, providing a home and meaningful work to more than 750 formerly homeless people. In addition to this, there are four emerging groups, working hard to establish new communities. Together, we are working towards a target of being able to offer 1,000 companion places by 2020.
Like any flourishing community, Emmaus is most successful when everyone makes a contribution. For us, that means working together in the social enterprise, to generate funds needed to support the community and the companions that call it home.
In return, companions are expected to work 40 hours per week or as much as they are able in the charity's social enterprise. They are required to sign off all benefits with the exception of housing benefit, which is claimed to help support the community. The ultimate goal is for each community to become self-sufficient, supporting itself with the revenue it generates through its businesses.
The Emmaus model has a huge impact on restoring confidence and self-respect, as companions take responsibility for keeping their community going and work hard to support themselves and others.
Emmaus is not about giving hand-outs, it’s about providing people with the tools to help themselves. This approach has been proven to produce long-term, sustainable results. For the many people who have been stuck in a cycle of homelessness, Emmaus provides the space and support they need to take stock of their lives and make positive changes for the future.
For every £1 spent with Emmaus there is an £11 social, economic and environmental return on investment.
This was the finding of a social return on investment study carried out on behalf of Emmaus. The research showed that we make a significant impact, with savings to the healthcare system, a reduction in crime and reoffending as well as savings to the benefits bill.
Solidarity, helping others less fortunate than yourself, is central to the Emmaus way of life. Everyone at Emmaus, including companions, staff, trustees and volunteers is encouraged to carry out acts of solidarity to support people who need it most.
For companions in particular, this has a huge impact on their confidence and self-worth, showing them that they can make a difference to someone else’s life and add value to the lives of people around them.
Emmaus in the world
Emmaus isn’t just in the UK, in fact it originally started in France in the 1940s. Since then Emmaus has grown into an international movement with more than 300 groups based in 36 countries across the world.
The Emmaus Bolton group was set up in May 2000. After several years of fundraising and searching for a suitable community property, in January 2005, the group bought the main part of the old Derby Barracks in Fletcher Street, Bolton, from the Ministry of Defence.
Emmaus Bolton opened its doors to the first ‘pioneer’ companions in April 2005.
In 2011, the community bought the remaining part of the site, known as 'The Cottages'. At the time of purchase, the buildings were unoccupied and mostly derelict, but they have now been renovated into two self-contained flats - providing additional bedrooms. We have also created some more business space with our 'boutique style shops - selling clothes, books, music and collectables.
The cottages are also home to our fabulous cafe - Cafe Pierre - serving freshly prepared food, home baked cakes and drinks.
Almost all of the work to renovate the buildings was carried out by Emmaus companions, and the place visitors see today is a fitting tribute and legacy to those companions who have made the barracks their home.
However, the work is not finished, as we are continuing to redevelop areas of the site. Our next big building project is the conversion of the old rifle range into a complex of workshops. The workshops will allow us to recycle, refurbish and reuse even more items that people do not want and stop them going to landfill.
Emmaus Bolton is an independent registered charity and is a member of the Emmaus UK federation, Emmaus Europe and Emmaus International.