Homelessness charity opens new community shop in town

Emmaus UK president Terry Waite formally opened the homelessness charity's new Bexhill shop in St Leonards Road on October 11.

Terry Waite (centre) with Emmaus residents John and Wayne
Terry Waite (centre) with Emmaus residents John and Wayne

Earlier the same day, Waite – a former Church of England envoy who spent more than four years as a hostage in Lebanon – took part in the charity’s Hastings Week open day, joining Hastings mayor Judy Rogers, deputy mayor Nigel Sinden and other visitors at the main Whitworth Road site.

Emmaus Hastings & Rother is part of a worldwide secular movement that aims to help people move on from homelessness by giving them a home and work in a supportive environment.

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Waite opened the UK’s first Emmaus community in Cambridge in 1992 and there are now 30 communities around the country, with more set to open.

Terry Waite

Before opening the Bexhill shop, Waite had lunch at the Whitworth Road community with some of the 23 residents, who work in the three shops and warehouse restoring and reselling donated furniture and household goods.

He said: “I think Emmaus has a two-fold benefit. It’s really helpful to the local community as it can provide at low cost – or in cases of real need at no cost – help in furnishing a home, and secondly it’s of tremendous help to people who formerly have been on the streets and now have a purpose in life and a good place to live.

“I opened the first community in Cambridge 25 years ago and we now have 30.

“I’m just delighted that we’re now operating in Bexhill. It’s a very attractive store full of very interesting items at a very reasonable price. It looks more like a high quality antique shop than a shop run by a charity for the homeless.”

Emmaus supports more than 750 formerly homeless people, by providing them with a home for as long as they need it and meaningful work in its social enterprises. There are plans to increase this to 1,000 places by 2020.

Visit www.emmaus.org.uk for more information.