Tuesday 26 May 2015

Valuable, versatile, volunteers

bake sales

1st-7th June is National Volunteers Week and here at Emmaus Lambeth we want to start the ball rolling by saying a BIG thank you to the Yellow Group who did some fundraising for Emmaus UK and volunteered in our Lambeth community earlier this year. Read on to learn about their experience.....

In September I joined the Civil Service Fast Stream, a graduate programme. On my first day I was placed into a team and we were told we had to raise as much money as we could over the next six months for a charity of our choosing. Given that this was approximately 18:00 on day one, we were all a little stunned.

Charlotte, another member of our freshly formed team, told us about the Emmaus community near her home town. She even told us the story of Abbe Pierre and how Emmaus was born out of  giving one man a meaningful job to do. We were so impressed by the values of community and sustainability that underpin Emmaus that we decided right there and then that this was the charity we would support for our fundraising challenge.

That day feels like rather a long time ago now! Six months, six bakes sales, two 10k runs, two marathons, many Christmas cards and £4,000 later, our fundraising challenge is finished.

However, for our team, it wasn’t just about raising money. We wanted to get to know the communities  we were supporting through our fundraising. For that reason, we decided to get in touch with some of the London Emmaus communities, and that is how we came to meet the fantastic people of Emmaus Lambeth.

Getting to know the companions was really important to our team. By working alongside them, we had the chance to get to know them better. Having lunch and hearing stories about their incredible and varied lives, jobs they have had, countries visited, albums recorded, languages spoken. Emmaus gives people a home to live in, a meaningful job and a chance to rebuild their lives without the pressure of a contract that is going to end or someone saying your time is up.

NC839 Volunteers Week Logo colourOne of our team, Matthew, wrote about his time spent in West Norwood

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Saturday afternoons I spent at Emmaus Lambeth. Working in the furniture shop, I was impressed by the enthusiasm and friendliness shown by all the companions both to the volunteers and to customers. The atmosphere created was an enjoyable one for us to work in and for the customers to shop in. Moreover, the companions between them had a set of practical skills that meant no problem was too small and no donation beyond repair. The teamwork was admirable.

I particularly enjoyed talking to the companions about their lives and the huge range of experiences they have had. David was particularly insightful as to the causes of homelessness and how the state might go about solving them. As a policy professional in the Civil Service, it was a discussion I found fascinating. It will leave a lasting impression on my understanding of homelessness, as well as an appreciation for the phenomenal work that Emmaus does.”

Like every Emmaus community, Emmaus Lambeth is ultimately working towards being entirely self-sustaining by creating enough business through social enterprise to be able to support the companions and the community they live in. We would encourage anyone who can to support Emmaus Lambeth, be it through a visit to the shops in West Norwood, by participating in a charity event or donating online. Every little helps and with Emmaus, a little can go a very long way indeed.

christmas carols