By Sally Burr

Emmaus (pronounced ‘Em-ous’) was first established in Paris in 1949 by Father Henri- Antoine Groues to provide accommodation, work and community to homeless people. There are now 36 Emmaus projects across the UK from Hastings to Hull.  

More than seventy years later, the Hastings & Rother Emmaus accommodates 24 residents known as ‘companions’. The companions live at Whitworth Road in St Leonards and work in the adjacent Second-hand Superstore or support the running of the retail shops in Bexhill and Battle. 

Zak Hurst

In October last year, Emmaus celebrated the refurbishment of their premises at its annual open day with special guest speaker, Andy McConnell of the Antiques Roadshow. The refurbishment work was carried out by London-based charity CRASH (Creating places that Care for People).

The refurbishment included replacement of windows with double-glazed units, recarpeting of the premises, replacement ceilings and ceiling lights in the residents’ building and the Second-hand Superstore. 

Westham John

Emmaus’ Community Manager, Zack Hurst, is delighted with the transformation: “It was like Jenga, moving all the furniture for the recarpeting. Now it’s all done, it looks incredible.”

Over in Bexhill, in the St Leonards Road retail shop, there’s a friendly welcome from shop coordinator ‘Westham John’ – also known as ‘John the bed man’ for his expertise in building and dismantling beds. John has been a resident at Emmaus Hastings for the last three years and has previously lived in Emmaus Brighton, St Albans and Burnley. 

John talked about what Emmaus means to him and what he thought of the recent refurbishment: “I love it at Emmaus. I was on the streets for three years in Brighton. I’ve got a mate from that time called Big John who has now joined us. The new windows are terrific and make such a difference.” 

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