Case Study: Emmaus Colchester

Emmaus Colchester, Essex

Emmaus Colchester is one of the 29 Emmaus communities across the UK, providing accommodation for men and women experiencing homelessness and social isolation. The residential facility provides the opportunity for people to get off the streets and into a structured life within the ‘community’ in which to live, work and rebuild their lives.

Upon joining the community, ‘companions’ as residents are known, are asked to volunteer for 40 hours a week to support the charity’s social enterprise. Every Emmaus community works to become financially self-supporting and to direct any surplus to those in greater need. This can be working in the shops, in the electrical and wood workshops, in the kitchen, house-keeping, in the warehouse or on the vans - collecting and delivering furniture. These outlets generate income to support the community. The companions are encouraged to both use existing skills, as well as having the opportunity to develop new ones.

The ethos of Emmaus is centred upon helping people build up their long-term sense of self-worth and break the cycle of homelessness. The charity encourages companions and staff members to carry out acts of solidarity and show kindness to others in need.


Emmaus Colchester and In Kind Direct

The community accommodation has capacity for almost 35 people to stay, and on a day to day basis the companions, volunteer, cook and eat together. For this reason, the charity requires cleaning and household products to keep the community in good condition and maintain the facilities.

Since joining the In Kind Direct network in 2008, Emmaus Colchester has received over £63,000 in estimated value of a wide range of products including surface cleaners, dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid, laundry detergent, toilet roll, toiletries, homeware and batteries.

Community Assistant, Florence, explained, “All of our residents come to us as they are facing homelessness. Providing them with bedding, toiletries and household items improves the individuals’ confidence and self-esteem." She further highlights that In Kind Direct allows Emmaus to order “cleaning and household items that otherwise would be products we would have to go without or struggle to buy ourselves.”

As the community is designed to be self-sufficient, savings made on essential items from In Kind Direct, such as laundry detergent, toilet paper and surface cleaner, hugely help to make their budget go further.

With the ethos of Emmaus focussing on improving self-esteem, having the means to keep the community clean and for companions to wash their clothes, is of central importance.

Community Manager Gintare Petrauskaite stated “In Kind Direct service has been an invaluable support to our charity - cleaning products and household items that we get really help to run our community on a day-to-day basis. We would like to thank all the businesses and organizations who donated to this wonderful initiative as it has truly been a massive money-saver.”