Last weekend, the representatives of Barka UK team visited the projects of Emmaus Community in Cambridge. Emmaus movement was started by Abbe Pierre – a French Catholic priest, member of the Franciscan Capuchin Order. The first Emmaus UK Community opened in 1991. There are now 30 communities (residential sites) spread across the UK, supporting more than 815 people known within Emmaus as companions, by providing a home for as long as needed and meaningful work in a social enterprise. There are also five Emmaus groups currently working to open new communities. Living in a stable environment with the opportunity to gain new skills helps Emmaus companions to regain any lost self-esteem and confidence so they can get back on their feet.
Emmaus supports homeless people with not just accommodation, but also a meaningful work and training in their social enterprises. The Emmaus Cambridge social enterprise generates revenue that pays for companions’ home, food and upkeep, as well as providing a small weekly allowance. This is key to restoring feelings of self-worth, showing these individuals that their actions make a real difference, both to their own life, and the lives of others.
The Emmaus Cambridge Barka UK visited was the first Emmaus community to be established in the UK.
Barka UK Team met the Site Manager, John McGovern and the two Polish members of the Emmaus Community. It was an important experience as we found there are a lot of similarities between the Communities of Barka and Emmaus. We know that finding the way out of being homeless isn’t easy, particularly when the only options available are temporary fixes, offering a bed for the night, but little to occupy your days. There are a lot of synergies between our organisations, such as: working in the social enterprise, where people can support themselves and one another, Work is an integral part of Barka community life, as one of the means generating the income that will ultimately make each of the communities self-sustaining, something every community is working towards.
It was a pleasure to discuss possibilities for the future cooperation with Emmaus Cambridge.
We were very impressed especially by the online shop with upcycled furniture, white goods.