Emmaus, the charity which provides the homeless with accommodation and a route back to independent life has ambitious plans for upgrading their main site and superstore in St Leonards. A change in vehicular access from a new roundabout in Queensway as part of the new link road (already partially open) has created potential for new customers travelling between Hastings, Bexhill and Brighton.

There are currently 23 residents with a wide combination of skills and experience: builders, van drivers, a chef, an electrician and a furniture restorer – even the most resourceful of people can find themselves homeless through a whole range of misfortunes.

Emmaus has proved time and again that the principle of exchanging support for skills restores people’s self-respect and alleviates depression, thus facilitating a return to independence. Emmaus prioritises skill/time sharing over monetary values. (Rock House, Common Treasury and the Observer building work on similar principles).

Staff, residents and volunteers are working together to upgrade and expand the 10-year-old charity superstore. The upper floor has already been re-carpeted and painted, with a new ceiling and energy-efficient LED lighting fitted. To keep costs down, the work was carried out by two fantastic local tradesmen with the help of residents and staff. This more welcoming area is now home to shelf upon shelf of quirky, decorative items, bric-a-brac, clothing and a wide selection of books, CDs and records. There are also plans to reopen the cafe here in the autumn.

The next, more complicated, stage is for the downstairs to be refurbished so that all the heavy items (such as beds and sofas) can be moved in and out of the building more easily. A new ceiling, carpets and a lick of paint will make it more appealing, and there are plans to knock down an existing wall, opening up a larger area for the huge selection of second-hand household furniture that is offered for sale at reasonable prices.

The entrance and till area will also be rebuilt using upcycled wood, making a visit to the shop a much more welcoming experience. It was always the intention to make the area as homely as possible for the residents in what is otherwise quite an industrial landscape: outside, the car park will be screened from the accommodation area by new planters, and the verge separating off the main road will be planted with meadow flowers.

While Emmaus is a little out of town, it is only a short walk for pedestrians to the number 26 bus stop on Harrow Lane.

HIP will be keeping you informed of progress over the next couple of months, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for further updates and news
of pop-up sales in the town. Everyone working at Emmaus is passionate about working collectively in a social enterprise. If you have expertise and would like to join them as a trustee contact: [email protected]

• To find out more about Emmaus go to: www.emmaus.org.uk/hastings_rother

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