The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Birthday and new accommodation for Emmaus 

Emmaus Norwich at Ditchingham celebrated their fourth birthday this week by opening a newly refurbished accommodation wing.  It marked a very special milestone in what has been a long journey to create an Emmaus community in Norfolk. 

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Iain MacKechnie Jarvis, Chair of Trustees was thrilled “to offer thanks for a large grant from the Government’s Empty Homes Agency and other very generous donations enabling Emmaus to refurbish one wing of the former convent of All Hallows.  The refurbishment created 16 new bedrooms in Holy Cross House which will now offer a home and meaningful work for up to 23 Companions - formerly homeless men and women - and at the same time create a self-supporting community, changing the lives of each of those companions and offering hope for each for the future”

The Bishop of Norwich, who was officiating with those who have supported the charity from its inception in attendance and whose Diocese has shown such strong support to the community said, ‘It is thrilling to see the Emmaus community flourish at Ditchingham.  The vision and generosity of the Sisters and the hard work done by the original trustees has been wonderfully rewarded.   It’s led to the creation of a home for Emmaus companions who have known homelessness and are now able to live with dignity, work and in friendship.   Emmaus doesn’t have clients or members but companions, and it’s worth remembering that the word companion refers to someone with whom you share bread.    Living, eating and working together can be testing for all of us but it is liberating too, as those who have known what it is to be homeless and sometimes friendless realise. It’s been a great fourth birthday and the new facilities at Holy Cross House take Emmaus Ditchingham to a whole new level.”

The Sisters of All Hallows, who gifted the building to the charity in 2009, came to see their empty buildings newly converted into a home for people who would otherwise have nowhere else to go.  

The charity has wide reaching support with Bungay Town Reeve attending, the Bishop of Thetford who led a party of volunteers to help get the grounds under control in 2013 and Norwich City Council Single Homeless and Rough Sleeper Co-ordinator, Ermir Prendi, celebrating their expansion added “This is a fantastic project and we are delighted Emmaus Norwich are able to increase their capacity to help more people affected by homelessness across our region. The Emmaus holistic approach to the needs of those experiencing homelessness is successful in changing people’s lives and we look forward to continue working with them in the future.”
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The community laid on a fantastic spread as a way of celebrating success and thanking those who’ve helped along the way, not least a small army of volunteers who help with everything from van driving to events planning.  They were supported by the Catering Manager, Wendy Martin from their sister community in Cambridge to make a cake big enough to put smiles on the faces of everyone who came. A warm welcome is what everyone who visits Emmaus receives, whether it’s a new companion, someone volunteering their time or a customer shopping for a new sofa’.  One of the Companions took the time to proudly show the Bishop his new room and the glorious grounds in which their home and social enterprise are located.

Cathy Hembry, General Manager said ‘Today is all about celebrating this community, the grit and determination of our trustees, the commitment and dedication of companions and the support of volunteers means we can offer a home, occupation, community and hope to 16 more people, it makes for a very special day”.

 The community are always looking for new customers in their second retail outlet, volunteers to give a bit of time and donors to keep the shop stocked.  In particular right now they are looking for a treasurer to join their board of trustees.  To find out more please visit or call Cathy on 01986 895444, email

Pictured: Bishop of Norwich officially opening Holy Cross House, the fine spread for guests.

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