Plans for Emmaus North East’s new centre to offer skills and accommodation to the homeless were announced at a launch in March by the organisation’s president, humanitarian campaigner, Terry Waite CBE.
Emma attended with dozens of people who went along to the Customs House in South Shields to hear more about the latest Emmaus scheme set to open in the town and to hear a speech by Mr Waite, who became known to the public when he was kidnapped after travelling to Lebanon as a peace envoy and held captive in Beirut from 1987 to 1991.
Mr Waite became involved with Emmaus after he was freed. The homeless charity, which has bought a former children’s home in Stanhope Road in South Shields which it is renovating, offers a unique place for homeless people to get back on their feet, providing them a safe place to live in return for working every day.
The charity is also developing another project in Gateshead. Both areas have been identified as needing services that will provide a long-term, sustainable route out of homelessness.
Most of the organisation’s communities strive to be self-sustaining by upcycling donated goods in workshops and reselling them.
Their first social enterprise, a charity shop in Low Fell, sells second-hand items to generate money for the community. Emmaus is also in negotiations to rent a shop in South Shields town centre where goods can be sold to profit the community.
He added “We want to enable people to regain their dignity as human beings. There’s no dignity in sitting on a street with a cap in your hands begging.”
Speaking after the event Emma said, “Terry Waite is by far the most powerful speaker I have ever had the pleasure of listening to and I was delighted he came to South Shields. Any one of us can find ourselves homeless and numbers are increasing as a result of the Conservative Government’s economic policies which are pushing many people into desperate poverty. I am pleased to welcome Emmaus to South Shields – it’s a great charity which has a track record of making a real difference to the lives of homeless people. I look forward to working with them to make the South Shields Emmaus community a huge success.’’
For more information visit the Emmaus website here