Patron of Emmaus UK, The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Emmaus Hastings and Rother on 5 December. Whilst there, she will meet with Companions, stop at the shop and café and officially open the new resident housing Emmaus Hastings & Rother, Whitworth Road, St. Leonards on Sea.
Since 2006, The Duchess has been Patron of Emmaus UK. Supporting those once homeless, Emmaus provides housing in one of its various Emmaus Communities and affords residents employment with one of its social operations, which in turn assists those in need to get their lives back on track and move forward in a positive direction. Those who reside in the Communities are referred to as “companions.”
This past May, three Companions along with Her Royal Highness travelled from the UK by train to Paris to discover the background of the charity, which had its beginnings in France. Companion Mary Rigg who attended the Paris trip and lives at Emmaus Hastings & Rother, will be a host for part of the Royal visit.
The Emmaus Movement began in the 1940’s in France by Abbe Pierre who was a priest, MP and Resistance Movement hero. Pierre was horrified by the homelessness and poverty that was rampant. He allowed 18 men to stay at his home who in turn sustained themselves by revamping other’s rubbish. New housing schemes started to be created throughout France and the world. In 1992 the first cooperative was established in Cambridge.
In 2009, the Emmaus Hastings and Rother shop opened. It is run by volunteers who at the time were devoted to raising enough funds to open a housing unit. In June 2011, their dream became a reality. The first set of what are known as ‘modules’ launched. They allowed for nine companion rooms. Additionally, a second unit was built which allocated six additional living areas.
“The accommodation building is constructed from high-quality; factory built modular units, giving maximum flexibility and speed of deployment at less than half the cost of many communities. The final phase of the building will be added in 2014, bringing the total number of companion places to 23,” Clarence House revealed.
The Duchess will officially open the new housing block with a plaque unveiling. The accommodations are named after Charlie Jordan who died in September 2009 only a short month after taking ownership of the group location. Jordan was the first Chair of Trustees of Emmaus Hastings & Rother, having previously been Chair of Emmaus Brighton & Hove.
“I was delighted and honoured to be asked to become Patron of Emmaus UK and it gave me the greatest pleasure to accept. I have been deeply impressed by what I have heard of the work of the charity, and the opportunities it gives to those who have lost so much to re-build their lives and regain their dignity and self-respect,” stated the Duchess via the Emmaus UK website.