Frequently Asked Questions
How do you say Emmaus and what does it mean?
It is pronounced e-MAY-us. The name was chosen by Emmaus' founder, Abbé Pierre as it symbolises hope. It comes from a story in St Luke's Gospel and, although Emmaus is not a religious organisation, Communities around the world have kept the name because of its symbolism. The story (Chapter 24, vv 13-35) describes how shortly after Jesus' death two of his followers were at Emmaus, a place near Jerusalem, when they saw the resurrected Jesus and so regained hope.
When did Emmaus start?
The first Emmaus Community was founded in Paris in 1949 by Abbé Pierre, a priest, MP and former member of the French resistance.The idea spread around the world, but Emmaus didn't arrive in the UK until 1992, when the first Community opened in Cambridge. More about Emmaus' history
What is a Companion?
The men and women who live and work in Emmaus Communities are known as Companions. The name 'compagnon' was chosen when the first Communities were founded in France; it is derived from Latin and originally meant those who ate bread together. Sharing meals is still an important part of Community life.
How long do people stay in a Community?
There is no limit to how long people stay in a Community - it can be anything from a couple of weeks to several years. Companions can stay for as long as they need. For some, Emmaus will fill a short term need, for example to recover from addiction, to regain their self-esteem, or to gain new skills. These people may move on to other accommodation, jobs etc. Others will stay in Emmaus for a longer time - for some it will be a permanent home. Communities benefit from having long term Companions as they provide stability and can help and support newer Companions.
Who comes to Emmaus?
Many Emmaus Companions have been living on the streets and sleeping rough. They come from many different backgrounds and have become homeless for a variety of reasons - relationship breakdown, job loss or bereavement have often played a significant part. Many struggle with alcohol and drug dependency. Those coming to Emmaus must be prepared to work and to sign off Job Seekers Allowance. Those addicted to alcohol or drugs must want to overcome this, as no alcohol or drugs are allowed in Communities. Many Companions find the security and support they need to face up to these problems within a Community environment. Read some Companions' stories
What is Community life like?
Life at each Community varies, depending on size, location etc. However, they all work broadly in the same way. Emmaus Communities live as a family, with members supporting each other and contributing to the well-being of all. Each Companion has their own room, but meals are eaten together. Housework is shared and social events are organised, though these are not compulsory.
Communities aim to be a home, not an institution, so there are few rules. However, all Companions are required to consider the needs of others. Those breaking rules are excluded from Emmaus Communities for a period of time. All Companions work full time on the Community business to the best of their ability, refurbishing and re-selling donated furniture.
How does someone join an Emmaus Community?
People find out about Emmaus in a variety of ways. Some Companions are "referred" by another organistion, such as a night shelter or social services. Others hear about us through word of mouth, for example from family or friends, or find us online.
Each Community deals with admission of new Companions independently. If somebody wishes to join they need to contact a particular Community to find out about joining that Community and whether there is a space there. More about joining a Community.
How do Emmaus Communities start?
Emmaus Communities start when a group of local people decide that a Community would benefit their area. With the support of the Emmaus UK Federation, they develop a Committee, find a site and raise the necessary funds. Read more.
What is the structure of Emmaus in the UK?
Emmaus UK is a Federation, made up of Communities and Groups. All Communities and some Groups are independent registered charities. The Emmaus UK Office is the central office of the Federation, providing support services to Communities and Groups. It is also a registered charity. More about our structure
Where does Emmaus get its money from?
Emmaus Communities aim to become financially self-sufficient through their business. It takes 5 years on average for a Community to become self-sufficient, so until this time, Communities require support from donations and grants. Groups working to set up Communities also rely on fundraising for the money to acquire a site, build/convert accommodation and set up the business. The Emmaus Federation Office fundraising team helps newer Communities and Groups in their fundraising, as well as raising money to pay for the other support services provided centrally. How you can help.
I've got some furniture I don't need any more. Does Emmaus want it?
Emmaus Communities rely on donated goods to make their living, by refurbishing and re-selling them. This provides work for the Companions and each Community aims to become self-sufficient through their work. However, there are some limitations on what Communities can take, depending, for example on what they can sell, how much storage space they have etc. More about donating items.
Can't find the answer to your question?
If you have any other questions about Emmaus, please phone 01223 379271 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the difference between an Emmaus Community and an Emmaus Group?
An Emmaus Community is an established Emmaus project, with Companions (formerly homeless men and women who live in the Community) and a shop. More about Communities.
Emmaus Groups are projects working to establish an Emmaus Community. They consist of a local committee of volunteers and, in the later stages, one or two paid staff. Some Groups have a shop, usually run by volunteers.