Emmaus (charity)

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Logo Emmaus.jpg
The Emmaus logo
Founded 1949
Founder Abbé Pierre
Type Not-for-profit
Focus Poverty, exclusion and homelessness
Area served
Key people
Jean Rousseau
Website www.emmaus.org.uk

Emmaus (French: Emmaüs) is an international solidarity movement founded in Paris in 1949 by the Catholic priest and Capuchin friar Abbé Pierre to combat poverty and homelessness.

Since 1971 regional and national initiatives have been grouped under a parent organization, Emmaus International, now run by Jean Rousseau, representing 310 groups in 38 countries, offering a range of charitable services.

Emmaus is a secular organisation, but Communities around the world have kept the name because of its symbolism. The biblical story, found in the Gospel of Luke, describes how two men saw the resurrected Jesus at the town of Emmaus, and so regained hope.

The organization's goals can be found in the Universal Manifesto of Emmaus International:

Our guiding principle is one which is essential to the whole human race if there is to be any life worth living, and any true peace and happiness either for the individual or society: Serve those worse off than yourself before yourself. Serve the most needy first.[1]


Abbé Pierre, founder of the Emmaus movement

The first Emmaus Community was founded by Father Henri-Antoine Groues (known as Abbé Pierre) in Paris in 1949. The former Resistance member was also an MP who fought to provide accommodation for the homeless people of Paris.

Abbé Pierre also took on the first Emmaus Companion, a former convict called Georges who had attempted suicide in the Seine. George helped to build temporary homes for those in need (initially in the priest's own garden), and then on any land they could obtain.

from Parliament in 1951, Abbé Pierre dedicated himself to the homeless cause. He struggled to pay Georges and the first 18 members of the Emmaus Community. The priest was rebuffed by his Church for begging at restaurants and so organised 'rag pickers' to collect unwanted items for resale. This formed the basis of Emmaus Communities raising funds and using profits to help others.

The harsh winter of 1954 led to a number of homeless people's deaths and Abbé Pierre appealed through the newspapers and on the radio for donations. The French people responded and Emmaus grew from a national charity into an international one. Emmaus Communities now began to appear across Europe, French West Africa, the Far East and South America.

By the early 1990s there were Emmaus Communities in over 40 countries.

Emmaus in the UK[edit]

The first British Emmaus Community appeared in Cambridge in 1992. It was set up by Selwyn Image who had been a student volunteer at an Emmaus Community in Paris. The charity provides formerly homeless people with a home and work , usually collecting, sorting and reselling donated furniture and household goods. Emmaus UK acts as a central resource to local Emmaus Communities across the UK.[2]

Existing communities[edit]

There are currently 24 Emmaus Communities open in the UK, and nine more are in development. The Communities provide accommodation and employment for formerly homeless people.

Emmaus Bolton is located at Derby Barracks in Bolton. The former Territorial Army Barracks have been refurbished and now serve as accommodation for up to 22 residents. The Community runs a furniture shop, including a delivery service.

Emmaus Brighton & Hove is situated in Portslade village on the South coast of England, four miles from the centre of Brighton. It is the largest Emmaus community in the UK, and its "Second-hand Superstore" is the largest second-hand shop in the South of England.

Emmaus Bristol, located in St Philips, Bristol, became the tenth Emmaus Community in the UK when Terry Waite opened Shaftesbury House in September 2003. They also have a Second-hand Superstore and a charity shop in Bedminster Parade.

Emmaus Burnley, located in the Daneshouse area of Burnley, became the twentieth Emmaus Community in the UK when Terry Waite opened it in 2011.

Emmaus Cambridge, in Landbeach, was the first Emmaus community to be established in the UK. It was a site converted from several barns and was opened by Terry Waite on 1 July 1992.

Emmaus Colchester opened its Community residence in August 2008, and also runs a furniture store. It was named Charity of the Year 2009 by Palladian Press.

Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire opened its doors to residents in 1993 at the Old Vicarage, in an acre and a half of grounds which are kept neat and tidy by the residents themselves. The growing allotment brings the Community ever closer to its aim of self-sufficiency. The Community shop is located on Red Lane, Coventry.[3]

Emmaus Glasgow is the first Emmaus Community in Scotland. It opened in January 2006 and provides accommodation for up to 24 people, as well as running a shop Tuesday-Friday, which is located in Hamiltonhill.

Emmaus Gloucestershire, a renovated former nurses’ home, was opened in 2001. Their business activities include a Secondhand Superstore in Gloucester, and charity shops in Nailsworth, Cheltenham and Stroud.

Emmaus Greenwich, in Plumstead, was converted from an unneeded children's home, and was opened by Prince Charles on 29 November 1994, in the presence of Abbé Pierre and Robert Runcie.

Emmaus Hampshire is located in Winchester. Its Community shop in Winchester is open 7 days a week, whilst its shop in Eastleigh is open Monday - Saturday. The income it generates supports the Community and its residents.

Emmaus Hastings opened in 2011. Its Community shop is located in St Leonards on Sea.

Emmaus Hull has an ongoing project to create an Emmaus community in Kingston upon Hull,East Yorkshire; to serve the City of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. The charity shop opened in April 2011 at 193 Newland Avenue, Hull HU5 2EN.

Emmaus Leeds was established as a Community on 3 November 2004. Its second-hand furniture store offers free collection and delivery to all Leeds post codes, and it also runs a furniture stall on Leeds market in Leeds city centre.

Emmaus Mossley, in Greater Manchester, was converted from a former cotton waste mill, Longlands Mill. The building was empty and becoming derelict when it was bought by Emmaus in 1996. The building, still called Longlands Mill, also houses the Mossley Industrial Heritage Centre, which records the history of the cotton industry in Mossley.

Emmaus Norwich also opened in 2011. Its Community is located in converted convent buildings in Ditchingham, about 12 miles south of Norwich.

Emmaus Oxford is one of Emmaus' newest communities, having opened its doors for 24 residents on 16 March 2009. It took over an existing furniture store on 1 June and renamed it the "Emmaus Oxford Second-hand Superstore".

Emmaus Preston runs a shop at 49-50 Friargate, Preston.

Emmaus Sheffield is located on Cadman Street, a short walk from Sheffield Canal Basin. Emmaus Sheffield opened its shop in August 2007, and welcomed its first residents in January 2008.

Emmaus South Lambeth is located in West Norwood, London. They operate a furniture shop and a boutique, on Knights Hill, West Norwood, London, SE27. Emmaus South Lambeth are now also selling items on eBay (username emmaussouthlambeth) and have a Facebook and Twitter page. South Lambeth currently house 27 Companions, who live and work in the Community. Companions are responsible for the running of the business and are empowered to make decisions about the operating of the community. An article on Emmaus South Lambeth featutured in 'The Pavement' magazine in 2009 - http://www.thepavement.org.uk/story.php?story=817

Emmaus St. Albans is in St. Albans, Hertfordshire and houses 24 people. The Community runs two shops, one joined to the Community building and the other located 8 miles away in Batford. Emmaus St Albans can also be found on Facebook.

Emmaus St. Martin's is located in Dover, Kent, fifteen minutes' walk from Dover Priory railway station. It houses 21 residents and also works to collect, refurbish and re-sell donated furniture.

Emmaus Village Carlton[4] is located in Bedfordshire, on the site of the old St Margaret's School in Carlton. It runs a second-hand shop selling bric-a-brac, jewellery and books, and also a furniture showroom.

People involved or associated with Emmaus[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]