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Dave Perry, Community Leader, looks at life in a cold economic climate

During a difficult year and recession it is often very difficult to keep in mind what we are here for. It is challenging to “make ends meet” with more people in worsening conditions and spending (or donating) less, but there is a spirit of working together to make it work in the Community. Many Companions are thinking of new ways to make the business more profitable, making items out of waste, increasing efficiency and reducing waste. It is heartening to see so much effort being put into improving the lives of everyone involved with Emmaus Bristol.
Also many Companions are thinking of those worse off than themselves in the wider community. Over the Christmas & New Year period 3 Companions volunteered their time to work at “Caring at Christmas”, a service provided for those with nowhere to sleep over the holiday period. They provide beds, food, health workers, support, and a sense that there is hope. Companions were alongside the guests, talking about their experiences, talking about Emmaus and giving hope to the hopeless. From this we are developing systems for welcoming people into the Community during the day to introduce them to Emmaus and help them with their basic needs.
On the coldest night of the winter 5 Companions, some staff & volunteers spent the night “sleeping rough” outside St Stephen’s Church, Soundwell to raise awareness of homelessness during Homelessness & Poverty Week. Over 30 people joined in and were served by the Bristol Soup Run in the evening and by church volunteers with a breakfast in the morning. 1 Companion enjoyed it so much he did a sponsored sleep- out in the grounds of “Pip’n’Jay Church and raised £90 for “Caring at Christmas”!
Companions are also involved in developing a training scheme for visiting work experience clients. We are partnering with a German organisation to receive a group of long-term unemployed people to gain experience with us.
All of this, and more, demonstrates what we are really about; Solidarity – “Serving those most in need”. It’s not what we can get out of the Community; it’s what we can put into it. By making a positive difference in other peoples’ lives we find our own lives enhanced. That’s what is happening in Emmaus Bristol, and what we are all about.

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