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Homeless charity Emmaus facing huge funding crisis

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A charity which houses more than 40 homeless people is facing a bleak future if it cannot find a new way of raising funds to feed and provide shelter for its residents.

Emmaus Cambridge has always been completely self-funding thanks to the turnover it makes from the secondhand furniture and household goods shop and café that it runs from the site in Landbeach.

But with the coronavirus lockdown forcing the closure of their shop, the charity can only support itself for a maximum of three months on savings and now says it is desperately looking for sponsorship for the health and safety of its vulnerable residents.

From left, resident Kiel Frank, Chief Executive Diane Docherty and resident Ian Hutson . Picture: Keith Heppell.
From left, resident Kiel Frank, Chief Executive Diane Docherty and resident Ian Hutson . Picture: Keith Heppell.

Diane Docherty, chief executive at Emmaus Cambridge said: “We are looking for new ideas to raise money for our project as our income stream has completely stopped. And we are holding out hope that there may be a generous benefactor in Cambridge who may like to help us out by sponsoring us.

“The charity operates from our site in Landbeach, with a huge charity retail store and café, plus accommodation for our companions, which is the name given to our residents. The majority of the funds Emmaus Cambridge needs to survive are generated through our charity stores.

“As a charity we do not have any outside funding because we have always managed to be self-sufficient. The companions who live here also work in the shop and our garden to keep us ticking over and we employ eight people to run the site, provide catering and to help with training and rehabilitation services, such as alcohol programmes.

“Some of the people who arrive here are very vulnerable and unwell when they come off the streets and our aim is to help them turn their lives around. To lose this service would be a disaster.”

Jon Cook, who has been working in the gardens at Emmaus
Jon Cook, who has been working in the gardens at Emmaus

Emmaus Cambridge is a charity that provides a home, work and individual support to people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion. The charity in Cambridge supports up to 44 formerly homeless people by providing them with a stable home and meaningful work for as long as they need it.

Diane added that the charity has just had to spend thousands of pounds on a new sewage system for the accommodation block and is facing insurance bills which have to be paid soon.

John Cook an Emmaus Cambridge Companion has written about his experience of lock down so far.

He explained: “Emmaus can only survive with your input, donations, custom and support. The more people who know about Emmaus, the more understanding and knowledge people will have about homelessness.”

Working in the garden at Emmaus (33062718)
Working in the garden at Emmaus (33062718)

The charity’s residential accommodation is observing the lockdown, explains Diane. She says: “Like everyone else, the companions we support are staying at home and we are trying to keep everyone safe, although our social enterprises are closed we still have a dedicated skeleton staff team who are attend site daily to offer continued support, reassurance and structure to our companions days.”

“We know it’s tough for everyone at the moment, but any gift you can spare will help us get through this difficult time. A donation from you will help Emmaus Cambridge continue its vital work during the current COVID-19 emergency and beyond.”

To find out more or support Emmaus Cambridge head to https://emmaus.org.uk/cambridge/covid-19-appeal/.

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