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What are we here for?

Dave Perry, Community Manager, brings us up to date on what the Staff and Companions are up to at Emmaus Bristol

We are close to receiving our One Millionth Pound in sales income.

It reminds us that we always have to balance the need to “pay our way” with our stated objective to “serve first those most in need”.

What is the point of Emmaus Bristol? Some would say to provide a place to stay for “homeless people”. Actually, this is not what we are here for. Our goals are much wider.  We are here to make a positive difference to our world, particularly in fighting poverty and injustice, through our own hard work, and using the many skills and talents of those who live in our Community, the Companions, who, as it happens, usually have a history of homelessness and have often not had the best start in life but do want to make a difference in whatever way they can.

What does this mean in practice? It means helping those in need, both close to home and further afield:

  • our neighbours requiring a few pieces of furniture and local pensioners who deserve a good Christmas lunch and celebration
  • those Emmaus Groups and Communities around the UK who need a little help in times of trouble from a stable and established Community – we have recently supported Emmaus Preston, Coventry, South Lambeth and Leeds in providing various levels of practical support, and are currently supporting 2 new Emmaus Groups working to open Communities in their towns
  • there is also the International Solidarity work we want to help with; a Companion recently spent a week in Bosnia helping the local Emmaus Community (see Chris’s article), others have raised awareness and money for the Water Project in Benin, Africa.

As soon as someone moves into our Community they are no longer homeless; they have a permanent home shared with others from diverse backgrounds but learning and sharing a common purpose. For me those are the “Million Pounds” of value. Sometimes it is easy to see: the service in Bosnia, the help given to another, short-staffed Community by a Companion “on loan”, carrying wardrobes up and down awkward stairs every day, keeping our Community clean, serving customers with a smile, feeding us so well.  Less visible, but the real heart of Emmaus, is the Companion taking a cup of tea to another Companion who is not well, to make sure he is OK; the Companions who welcome visitors into their home by meeting them at the station and making sure they are comfortable and want for nothing; those who are so concerned about another Companion who is struggling or in trouble that they go out of their way to support them and advocate for them in whatever way they can.

The small things are difficult to see sometimes, but they are what makes Emmaus different. I have a “Million Pound Moment” every day, when I see Companions living their life in their Community for others. It is a privilege and pleasure to be the Community Leader of Emmaus Bristol.

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