Denise's story

27.09.17  Residential Magdelen Street  High Res  3 of 82

“Before starting as General Manager at Emmaus Colchester, I had a varied career trajectory. I grew up in Braintree, Essex where I worked in Barclay’s bank before relocating to a Northamptonshire branch. After 20 years with the bank, I realised I had grown tired of capitalism and accepted voluntary redundancy.

I decided to take some time to figure out how I could help people close to home. Before I knew what was happening, I had set up a charity in Northants and taken a community centre off the council; it was in the right location, and had the potential to serve the local people but it was never open. After working with trustees, we were granted Lottery funding and I’m pleased to say that it’s still going today. I then took a role as a commissioner for Suffolk County Council; I made sure that we were offering the right services at the right time, for the right people, specifically adults with learning disabilities; I love working with vulnerable adults and listening to people. I hope to continue listening and making life a little easier for our companions at Emmaus Colchester.

I’ve been in post for a while now, and it’s evident just how strong the team is – they work really hard, which makes my job easier. What I love the most about Emmaus, though, is its heart.

In terms of my challenges, I’m looking forward to looking into how we can be more sustainable. I’m quickly realising that while the government may discuss homelessness and ways of tackling it, nothing is being done. Instead, potential changes to Universal Credit and housing benefits could have a negative impact on us; the lack of information surrounding the future of Universal Credit really worries me. If we can be financially sustainable, that would help immensely – so we must consider expanding our operation with another shop.

In the short time that I’ve been at Emmaus, I feel I understand how vulnerable people become homeless and why they feel the system is against them. If I can end with a plea to our local residents, please don’t throw your old furniture away – donate to us! The profit made in our shops directly benefits our companions, with many using their time with us to regain their self-esteem, helping them to move on successfully with their lives.