Don’t throw it out, make it work

If you’re having a pre or post-Christmas clear out, you might have some items of furniture or clothing that could make a big difference to someone. Whether it’s furniture or clothing (although money’s always welcome), check out your local Emmaus shop (use this link: to see how you can help.

Emmaus (pronounced em-may-us) is a homelessness charity with a difference. The team there not only give people a bed for the night, they provide a home, meaningful work in a community setting and a sense of belonging. If you have time, please read how Emmaus started, it’s a wonderful story:

It all began in Paris in 1949 when the first Emmaus community was founded by Father Henri-Antoine Grouès, better known as Abbé Pierre. He was an MP, Catholic priest and former member of the French Resistance who fought to provide homes for those who lived on the streets of Paris.

One night, a man called Georges was brought to Abbé Pierre after a failed suicide attempt. Georges had been released after 20 years in prison, only to find his family unable to cope with his return home, leaving him with nowhere to go. He turned to the Abbé for help, but instead Abbé Pierre asked Georges to help him, building houses for the homeless mothers who came looking for his support.

Georges became the first Emmaus companion, living with Abbé Pierre and helping him to build temporary homes for those in need, first in the priest’s own garden, then wherever land could be bought or scrounged. He later said:

“Whatever else he might have given me – money, home, somewhere to work – I’d have still tried to kill myself again. What I was missing, and what he offered, was something to live for.”

Georges, the first Emmaus companion