News ‘It’s a unique thing
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.