Hi, Emma here. I’m also known around these parts as the one who makes sure we bring sunshine into our customers’ lives.
We recently had the pleasure of spending the day with our wonderful friends at Emmaus, and I wanted to take some time to tell you all about it and everything I learned.
For the uninitiated, Emmaus are a charity that supports their companions (formerly homeless people) with the uphill task of getting back on their feet. Providing meaningful work, training, support and a stable home for as long as someone needs it.
Our day was led by Donald, who’s been with the Emmaus community in Leeds for over 10 years.
Donald’s outlook on how Emmaus works was refreshingly inspirational. He shared with us that the business side of their community is very much run by their companions. It’s the companions that have complete autonomy and ownership over the success. Donald made it very clear to us that he, and the other employees, work for their companions – not the other way round. Just brilliant.
We thoroughly enjoyed lunch with the companions, and I personally loved being able to chat with an absolutely star called Tony. We shared our love for all things gardening, and I listened in awe as he told me all about his story; from his past gardening businesses to his inventions which were inspired by his time spent living on the streets. Tony’s determination and spirit to move on and build a new life for himself is testament to the fantastic work that Emmaus continues to do.
It was then down to the basement for a window into how Emmaus manages the donated goods that they collect and rehome. It’s terrible to think that without Emmaus, most of these goods would’ve ended up in landfill. Instead, they’ve a dedicated team excited to get out of bed every day to find these items a new, loving home. The shop was great too, and I took a particular liking to the quotes dotted around, all of which give a lovely reminder that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill charity shop. This shop is the companions’ home, and it exists to help them get out there, supporting themselves.
All in all, the experience was truly humbling. At the same time, it was impossible not to leave with a smile on our faces thinking about the positivity that the Emmaus community brings to life. I thoroughly enjoyed my day with the team. I’m so pleased to have been able to share just a little glimpse of that with you, and I look forward to continuing to share insights into what the wonderful team at Emmaus gets up to over the coming weeks, months and years.
I’ll leave you with a little quote from Donald, I hope he won’t mind. I jotted it down when he said it because it really stuck with me…
‘We give value where others don’t – this can be to physical items (unwanted, and given to us through donations), but also to the companions (they didn’t value themselves, and nor did others).’
Thank you, Emmaus. For all that you do.