The extraordinary opportunities of Emmaus

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Michael Fairclough, Assistant Community Leader at Emmaus Salford, shares his thoughts

The world is always a very different place when you look at it through someone else’s eyes, and what an extraordinary opportunity Emmaus communities offer in this regard. While I’m not a complete novice when it comes to the plight of the homeless, it is clear that eyes (as they once were for others on the scriptural Emmaus road) can be opened when living and working with those who, for one reason or another, have found themselves without a home and/or on the streets at some stage in their lives.

Their stories can be remarkable and, ironically, sobering – reminding us that we are all just one step, one relationship breakdown, one lost job, one poor decision, one addiction away from finding ourselves in similar circumstances. And how would we – how would I – cope in such circumstances? The answer is: probably a lot better in a supportive environment like Emmaus than on our own.

And, as I’ve discovered many times on life’s journey, in situations where I thought I had much to give to a particular community I end up receiving in equal measure if not more; I expect this will continue to be the case at Emmaus Salford. I also hope that those who value wisdom and insight will take any opportunities that come along to look at the world through another’s eyes; it may just help us all live with less prejudice and with much more understanding.

Welcome to Michael

20150116_160027A warm welcome to the new Assistant Community Leader at Emmaus Salford, Michael Fairclough, who introduces himself as follows:

Despite working in a modern office environment for the last eleven years (appropriately suited and booted), I’ve always been – at heart – a ‘roll your sleeves up’ sort of person.   So even though I am now using muscles I’d forgotten existed and putting my hands in places it would be impolite to write about re some domestic duties, I’m quietly enjoying myself in my new role.

Like Blackpool through a stick of rock, support of and for communities has always been at the core of my working life.  Early years were spent as a Catholic priest working in various communities across the northwest. Then, having taken a decision to leave, I worked for an overseas aid agency in a fundraising and campaigning role, taking up opportunities to briefly live among poor communities in Africa, India and Bangladesh. In recent years, I was a community development manager and, latterly, head of community investment at The Co-operative responsible for its extensive UK-wide community programmes. And now? Much to learn, much to do.

My wife, Maria, is a receptionist at a busy health centre. Marrying her sixteen years ago still remains the best decision I ever made, not least because we now enjoy four grandchildren who fill the house with energy and hilarity whenever they visit or come to stay – as they do on a regular basis. When not being entertained by them, you might find me walking along canals with my ex tax inspector brother (solving the world’s ills), mowing our small lawn (dreaming of a bigger one that requires a sit-down mower) or pretending I’m a top chef when cooking a shepherd’s pie (one of the few dishes I can cook reasonably well). 

So there I am in 250 words; my allowance for now.

Thanks for your support in the Lloyds Bank Community Fund

Companions, Staff and Trustees of Emmaus Salford wish to express their sincere thanks for your support and in voting for Emmaus Salford during September and October 2014.

Your votes made a difference.

We came third in the vote, receiving £1,000 towards funding the tools we need to purchase. This will assist in the fit-out of our Workshop. Companions will repair and upcycle furniture and household equipment using this equipment.

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Christmas Dinner at Emmaus House

The first Christmas lunch at Emmaus House allowed us to test the newly installed equipment in the Community Kitchen. Emmaus Salford is now the proud owner of a fully operational commercial standard kitchen, supplied and installed by Zantec Limited.

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Terry and Pat Companions at Emmaus Salford cooked the meal, ingredients for which were provided by Trustees and Volunteers.

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Thirty people including companions, staff, volunteers and trustees sat down to a festive meal. It was thrilling to be able to eat our first meal together in a building which 12 months ago had a leaky roof and required considerable refurbishment works.

Now we have a building with all the facilities that are required for us to open as a fully operational Emmaus Community.

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Kitchens and Concerts

The area designated in our plans for the Community Kitchen for Emmaus House is now having the principal items of equipment installed.

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Funding for the kitchen was kindly provided by Booths Charities and the Duchy of Lancaster. Zantec are the kitchen suppliers who are carrying out the installation of the equipment and who have kindly provided the design and advice to Trustees; their team continues to work alongside Pioneer Companions as the project continues. Local builders Schofield’s are also assisting with the installation of some of the equipment.

The kitchen will be a fully operational commercial standard kitchen providing meals for Companions, Staff and Volunteers.

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This work is one of the final major areas of internal refurbishment work in the redevelopment of the building.

German Shepherd Records who curated the charity album “Salford Streets” for Emmaus earlier in the year are holding two concerts at the historic Crescent Pub on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th December – there will be a bucket collection for Emmaus on both evenings. The cost on entry on both evenings is £4 and the artists playing are as follows:

Friday – The Junta, Johann Kloos, Factory Acts, The Hamsters, Poppycock

Saturday – The Prick Jaggers, Rose Niland, Modal Roberts, West Coast Sick Line, Loop-aznavour

Emmaus Salford Seek Funding Continuation

In Empty Homes Week, 1 – 5 December, Emmaus Salford is calling for continued support for the valuable Empty Homes Community Group Property (EHCGP) funding, due to end in March 2015.

Emmaus Salford – which now offers a home to four formerly homeless people – received £175,000 from the Empty Homes project in 2013, which was used to bring a disused former elderly persons care home back into use.

The building, which stood empty for over a year, will ultimately provide a home and meaningful work for 26 people who have previously experienced homelessness.

The Emmaus Salford Steering Group

The Emmaus Salford Steering Group

Local councillor and former mayor of Salford, Valerie Burgoyne, chairs the Emmaus Salford group and led a team of trustees, volunteers and staff to open the Emmaus community.

Val said: “It is estimated that, across England there are 635,127 empty homes. In 2013, that figure dropped by 75,000, in part due to the availability of Empty Homes funding. We are keen to see that funding continue so that other charitable organisations, and other Emmaus groups across the UK, can help people back into long-term accommodation.”

She continued: “Many of the companions at Salford are heading out to help out at shelters or distributing cold weather clothing over the Christmas period, which is a wonderful demonstration of how secure and confident they feel at Emmaus.

“We, the trustees, will also be putting on a full Christmas spread to thank them – and our volunteers and staff – for all their hard work over the last year in getting the community up and running.”

The Shop At Emmaus House

The Shop At Emmaus House