Norfolk homeless charity celebrates 10 years
Emmaus Norfolk and Waveney is celebrating a decade of supporting people out of homelessness with a day of celebrations on Saturday October 30 at its Ditchingham Community and everyone is invited.
Supporters, customers, volunteers and companions are invited to the event to mark 10 years since the charity first opened its doors.
As well as all the usual shopping and bargain-hunting opportunities there will be live music, family fun and games and spoken-word performances from 10am to 4pm.
There will also be the opportunity to hear from Selwyn Image, one of the Trustees and the founder of Emmaus here in the UK. It’s 30 years since Selwyn bought the concept of Emmaus to the UK and since then the movement has spread around the UK, with 28 communities opening in every corner of the country, including here in Norfolk & Waveney.
The on-site cafe, The Orchard Cafe, will be making a very welcome return to the community and will have its formal reopening during the day.
CEO of Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, Cecile Roberts, said: “Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney is a very special place to work. I’m proud to be part of an organisation that has transformed so many lives.
“We could not have achieved any of this without the people who support our work, whether it’s through donating items to our charity shop, shopping with us or volunteering their time to support our companions. They have all helped make an incredible difference to the lives of people who have experienced homelessness.”
The Emmaus movement was brought to the UK in 1991 by Cambridge businessman Selwyn Image. He had volunteered in a night shelter in the early 1990s and concluded that that homeless people didn’t want handouts, they wanted self-respect.
Speaking about the early days of the charity, Selwyn Image said: “Matters came to a head for me when I talked to an articulate and intelligent man. His story was a familiar one. Broken marriage, move into digs, redundancy, and drink to anaesthetise the pain and humiliation of life on the street, and the bitter reality of no home no job, no job no home.
“Every attempt I made to be hopeful and positive was shot down with ruthless logic until, in a shameful moment of irritation, I said: ‘What is it you want, then?’ He told me patiently but with an intensity I can still hear: ‘I want to work and belong. I want my self-respect back. I don’t want to queue for handouts or have to beg for food. And I don’t want people to cross the street to avoid me’. At that moment I remembered the Emmaus community in Paris where I had worked as a student 30 years before, and knew we had to try starting one here.
“Today, 75 years after its foundation in France, 30 years here in the UK and ten years here in Norfolk, the unique Emmaus offering of providing meaningful work, a supportive environment and the opportunity to recover self-respect are still as relevant and needed as then.”
You can find Emmaus at: Emmaus House, Belsey Bridge, Ditchingham, NR35 2DT
Find out more at emmaus.org.uk