‘We are all pulling together’ - Cambridgeshire charity that helps ex-homeless people calls for urgent support amid coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 April 2020

John Cook (right) has been a companion at Emmaus Cambridge for nearly two-and-a-half years. Picture: EMMAUS CAMBRIDGE

John Cook (right) has been a companion at Emmaus Cambridge for nearly two-and-a-half years. Picture: EMMAUS CAMBRIDGE


A charity that helps people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion is calling for your support to continue providing help to those who need it most during the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the gardening team at Emmaus Cambridge hard at work. Pictures: EMMAUS CAMBRIDGEMembers of the gardening team at Emmaus Cambridge hard at work. Pictures: EMMAUS CAMBRIDGE

Emmaus Cambridge, which operates from their site in Landbeach, supports up to 44 formerly homeless people by providing residents, known as companions, with a stable home and meaningful work for as long as they need it.

However, the temporary closure of their charity store has posed a significant risk to their existence with most of their funding coming from their retail outlet and café.

John Cook has been one of the charity’s companions for nearly two-and-a-half years, and although he admits the charity is struggling, team spirit is pulling them through.

He said: “The virus has hit us hard! We have had to close our shop and cafe and can no longer maintain our presence at Ely market.

“Nearly half of our staff team have had to accept the Government’s 80% offer (to pay staff wages) and others are having to work from home.

“Our trustees and director have been prudent and we do have some reserves, but these will not last long.

“Some of us who are drivers go shopping for the others, our business team is looking at other ways we can generate income and our wonderful support staff are ‘going the extra mile’ by coming in to work in the evenings.

“We are all pulling together in the way a genuine community should. No one is ill thankfully, and we are observing the Government advice to maintain social distancing with people outside the community.”

Whilst the charity has set up an online shop on eBay to try and relieve the financial strain, John and other companions are preparing their Spring garden which has provided some much-needed cheer in testing times.

John added: “Our stalwart volunteer Graham cannot be with us, but there are plenty of willing companions giving their time to make sure our garden this year will be the best it’s ever been!

“Our alliums (onions garlic and shallots), which were planted last autumn by students from Castle School have started to ‘spring up’ and promise a good crop to come.

“At the moment, Emmaus Cambridge is our home and we do not want to lose it.

“When I came here in 2017 I was a mess: anxiety, depression, debt and an alcohol problem; now I am able to write this and am proud of my community and how it has helped me and my friends here.”

Diane Docherty, chief executive at Emmaus Cambridge said: “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 donate, go to https://bit.ly/3e8IdSt or for more information on the charity, visit https://emmaus.org.uk/cambridge/.

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