Nearly a month ago Emmaus President, Terry Waite CBE, cut the ribbon on our new Stokes Croft building and heralded the beginning of a new era in our history. Everyone here at Emmaus, including our Chief Exec Richard Pendlebury, was excited at the opportunity to finally allow staff and companions to work together under one roof—a big change from our old premises in St Phillips which had come to the end of its usefulness.
Our new store has two floors, boasts both vintage and retro goods and good quality second-hand items, offices and a warehouse area where collections and deliveries can be made. Since our Grand Opening (which was brilliant, thanks to all those who came along!) as well as our much-loved customers walking through our doors, we have had some budding entrepreneurs come through to take advantage of our Business Incubator Units.
The new Business Incubator Units are an important development in our journey to make a positive impact on the lives of those most in need. Emmaus’ historic mission has been to support formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to get back on their feet again. For many who experience homelessness, one of the biggest obstacles they must overcome is a loss of self-esteem. Emmaus provides people with a stable home and the opportunity to regain their self-worth, making a real contribution to their community.
These Business Incubator Units take that mission a step further. As an organization we saw a need in our local community to support the many individuals in Bristol who have a business idea and just need that bit of support to get started. As a community, we believe it is essential that every person that has the potential to achieve something but needs that second chance to do so should get the support they need. Our new units therefore provide the physical space and the guidance, advice and experience of our dedicated and delightful team.
Simon Sherrat, a former companion at Emmaus Bristol, is the first person to have benefited from the £403,354 European Regional Development Fund grant (South West Competitiveness Programme) that made this development possible. His computer recycling venture is going from strength to strength as he takes in unwanted PCs, laptops, and mobile phones and strips them for useable parts.
He said: “This is an ideal opportunity for companions and others to create their own future by running their own enterprise.”
“In a year, what I would like to have done is generate hope in others. If they see that I can do it, why can’t they?”
Emmaus is also on course to secure three further small businesses – one, tackling gang crime, another who works with ornamental plaster and who has set up a company to help young people find work.
If you haven’t already, please come and visit our new store in Backfields the details of which can be find on the website. If you are a budding entrepreneur and you are looking for some space to develop your business, please get in touch with us as well.
We hope to see you soon!