News ‘It’s a unique thing

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

IT CAN be a chal­leng­ing time to get back on your feet af­ter sleep­ing rough, bat­tling ad­dic­tion or be­com­ing es­tranged from fam­ily and friends.

Home­less­ness char­ity Em­maus wel­comes peo­ple who have fallen on hard times into a unique com­mu­nity where they can live, work and re­store a sense of mean­ing into their lives.

Em­maus re­fer to the peo­ple they help as com­pan­ions. There are cur­rently 22 com­pan­ions liv­ing in Coven­try all of whom have their ac­com­mo­da­tion and meals pro­vided, and, in re­turn, spend their time work­ing in a num­ber of roles within the char­ity.

Com­mu­nity di­rec­tor Geral­dine Tsaki­rakis told the Tele­graph that more than 50% of the money made by the char­ity comes from the work the com­pan­ions do – for ex­am­ple bulk waste col­lec­tions for the coun­cil and house clearances.

“It’s great be­cause it means the com­pan­ions are ac­tu­ally mak­ing money to keep the char­ity run­ning so we can help more peo­ple,” she said.

Em­maus have a set of cri­te­ria for al­low­ing men or women to join the com­mu­nity which in­cludes be­ing drug-free, but their most im­por­tant re­quire­ment is that they are will­ing to work. Com­pan­ion Jonny Har­ri­son-James, 28, said be­ing given mean­ing­ful work has helped re­store a sense of pride. “Where I come from there’s a cer­tain amount of stigma around be­ing home­less. But you get a sense of pride in what you do with Em­maus.” Jonny ended up home­less af­ter a snow­board­ing ac­ci­dent abroad but found a home with Em­maus three months ago.

“It re­ally is a unique thing that they of­fer. I’ve been to re­hab where it costs thou­sands of pounds but this place has helped me so much more. It’s not re­hab but I do know they will help me and I’ll have peo­ple to talk to if any­thing does hap­pen. It gives you the free-time you need to re­build your life but also of­fers sup­port so you’re not on your own.”

Com­pan­ions are en­cour­aged to look out for each other dur­ing their stay. They all live to­gether but are each pro­vided with their own room. Some of the com­pan­ions will be tasked with clean­ing and cook­ing while oth­ers work at the shop.

Matt Dotchin, 39, spends time at the shop and on col­lec­tions.

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