Metis Homes and Terry Waite CBE attend launch of Southampton homeless charity superstore

Terry Waite CBE and President of homelessness charity Emmaus UK, joined the Winchester headquartered Emmaus Hampshire team for the opening of its new charity home superstore in Shirley, Southampton, on Saturday (7th April).

The 4,000 sq ft Southampton outlet is a critical expansion for Emmaus in Hampshire, a vibrant and thriving social enterprise which provides a unique solution for the region’s vulnerable homeless community, to help generate vital revenue for the charity’s services for those who find themselves without a home in the region. The Southampton outlet is the third store Emmaus Hampshire has opened, with others located in Eastleigh and Winchester. Four further stores are due to open across the county in the future.

Terry knows only too well the misery, isolation, fear, boredom and despair that many homeless people go through. Having spent four years in solitary confinement following an unsuccessful rescue attempt of four hostages in Lebanon on behalf of the Church of England, which led him to be kidnapped himself - Terry’s empathy with those who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion makes him a much loved president.

Terry said: “Twenty six years ago now I came out of captivity in Beirut. I’d been sleeping on the floor for five years, chained to the wall, no natural light. In those years I’ve always had a sympathy for people who are on the margins of life, and my sympathy turned to empathy.”

Emmaus Hampshire is now reaching out to Southampton residents to help fill the store with donated items, which can be sold on and rehomed. Donations can include unwanted furniture or homewares such as bric-a-brac, CDs, books and clothing. These can be dropped off at the shop, or Emmaus can arrange collection from your home. In fact, 96% of all donated items are recycled by Emmaus Hampshire.

Leading Winchester-based housebuilder, Metis Homes has also pledged its long-term commitment to the charity as its official sponsor. Crowned Best Small Housebuilder 2017 by WhatHouse?, Metis Homes has provided financial support to Emmaus Hampshire as well as offering advice to help the charity in its work to reduce homelessness.

Commenting on the Southampton opening, Emmaus Hampshire CEO, Nigel Samuels, said: “All of our shops are run by our Companions – previously homeless individuals who are currently benefitting from Emmaus’ support, overseen by our Retail Support Manager.

“Our solution to help tackle homelessness is uniquely focused on helping our Companions find their way back to living independently. From providing accommodation and employment opportunities, we also offer personal development for all individuals to help support them on their way towards achieving this.

“At 4,000 sq ft, the store is quite a sizeable outlet – so any donations that the local community of Southampton can provide will be most welcome. And of course, for anyone looking to furnish their home, or in need of a specific item, we are hoping to have plenty on offer!”

In Metis Homes’ latest contribution, the housebuilder has sponsored the opening of the Shirley store and also donated a brand new car, which will be used by the Companions to travel to and from the shop.

Adam O’Brien, Managing Director at Metis Homes, said: “Emmaus Hampshire does amazing work, and we want to show our support by helping in any way we can. As well as backing the opening of the Southampton store, we are also contributing to the building of some new rooms in the Emmaus Community, so that Emmaus can provide more accommodation – taking the charity up to 33 beds in total.

“With it also being our tenth anniversary, we felt helping with the launch of the Southampton store was essential to our plans to step up our commitment to giving something back to the communities in which we build.”

Homelessness can happen to anyone, Tony should know. Having had a good education and attending boarding school, he went on to marry twice and have four children. As a young father he worked hard and had a good job – and gave up much of his free time to be a referee in the local football league. Tony said: “My second marriage broke up due to my lack of self-control and being unable to find a balance between work and home life. I left our family home, which was very hard, and I drank to cope with my pain.

“My drinking habit caught up with me and I lost my job; my life started to spiral out of control. I soon found myself sleeping rough and I continued to drink. I then became part of a group of rough sleepers that had been quietly growing within my town. It was among this group that I learned of the work of Emmaus Hampshire and I applied to join them as a Companion.

“From the moment I walked into this fabulous community, I was able to sleep safely again and I have withdrawn from using alcohol as a dependency. Over the last five years, Emmaus has allowed me a huge amount of scope to contribute to the running and success of the community.

“I know when I feel ready, Emmaus will help me to develop new skills, support my application to obtain work locally and will help me find a home outside of the community. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the friendships of my fellow Companions and give the best service I can to our customers who support us.”

For further information about Emmaus Hampshire, visit www.emmaus.org.uk/hampshire

For further information about Metis Homes, visit www.metishomes.co.uk

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