Our charity supports 23 formerly homeless people here in Bristol, but the impact of what we do goes beyond the lives of those who live in our community. We accept Bristol Charities vouchers from people who otherwise would struggle to furnish their homes and give free delivery to people in this situation. Below is a letter written by a customer we recently helped in this way, explaining how our service really helped her and her son at a difficult time in their lives.
“Delighted” doesn’t really start to cover the range of emotions that I’ve experienced since first walking into your shop. Before this current moment of crisis, I’ve always been the person offering support – never really asking for it: I’m the vice-chair of a carers charity myself, supporting families with disabled children. I’m very proud of my work and reputation. I like helping people; I’m good at it.
“Before this moment of crisis, I’ve always been the person offering support – never really asking for it”
So it’s a strange thing to suddenly be the person who needs the help, a complete 180-degree shift in fortune, and that’s very hard to come to terms with in some ways. So walking into Emmaus Bristol was the end of quite a difficult process for me. I was shaky and emotional, and I had my lovely son with me – for we were looking for affordable furniture for his room.
Your companion greeted us cheerfully and told us to get ourselves comfy in the sofa section. At no point did I feel uncomfortable or awkward, or like I was being a bother. Our time, our needs, our circumstances were treated with respect and kindness, and that’s an extraordinary rarity in my experience so far.
“it’s not enough to just help people who need it – you have to make them feel like people again, too . . your team really do exemplify that”
In fact, everyone I met at Emmaus Bristol demonstrated this deep kind of human-to-human respect, and I’ve found that both moving and comforting: I am not alone, and I am not to blame. I am fixing things and I have help. These are all powerful statements to be able to make at the end of a crisis – it means the world to me that I’m able to say these things and know they’re true.
So we picked out our furniture, arranged delivery, and waited for Delivery Day. When the van arrived, my son couldn’t help but buzz eagerly around the delivery men who were incredibly patient and kind to him. And those poor delivery men! What heroes!
My house has been solidly neglected by my landlady for years (part of what contributed to our recent crisis), and is anyway a steep-staired, narrow-halled, tall-bannistered old house. I’d forgotten the battles I’d had in the past to get anything up those stairs, and suddenly these poor delivery men are hefting all this new, solid wood furniture up into my son’s room. And they did so without a murmur of complaint, smiling throughout, patiently asking where each piece was going to go. Your delivery men are an amazing ensemble – I really can’t say enough for them.
I’ve always said that it’s not enough to just help people who need it – you have to make them feel like people again, too. I’ve always stuck to that philosophy, no matter what job I’m in, and your team really do exemplify that. My heartfelt gratitude to everyone we met; you haven’t just put furniture in my house, you’ve helped turn it back into a home.