Emmaus founder to speak at Caritas in Cambridge

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Emmaus founder to speak at Caritas in Cambridge

Caritas East Anglia will stage its first-ever Caritas Festival in Cambridge on November 4 at St Laurence’s Church, where there will be stalls and the chance to hear two inspirational people share their stories of involvement in social outreach projects. Jane Crone of CAFOD in East Anglia reports.

The founder of Christian homelessness charity Emmaus UK, Selwyn Image, is the keynote speaker at 11.15am. While a languages student in Cambridge, Selwyn volunteered for the Emmaus Paris community, which gives shelter, meaningful work and a sense of community to homeless people.

After university, he spent 30 years as an international marketing executive working across the world. In 1989 he returned to live in Cambridge and was struck by the increase in the number of homeless people living on the city’s streets. Inspired to respond he asked Emmaus founder, Abbé Pierre for help, recalling his words to those around him when faced with immediate social need – “Au boulot”, “On with the job”. This led to the establishment of the UK’s first Emmaus community in Cambridge in 1992 with the support of the City Council’s Director of Housing.

Selwyn moved on to create Emmaus UK. Today it provides home, companionship and meaningful work for over 1000 formerly homeless people in 30 Emmaus communities and three local charities are working towards setting up a residential community and social enterprise. Selwyn’s goal is to see an Emmaus community in every UK town and city, giving homeless people the self-respect they desire, rather than handouts.  

Emmaus communities generate its own income. Each member, or companion, is given a small personal allowance in addition to their own room, board and clothing. The organisation funds itself in various ways, for example by running cafés, house clearance businesses and clothing shops. Some Emmaus communities also ‘upcycle’ old furniture, re-painting and re-upholstering items before selling them on at a profit.

All are welcome to the Caritas Festival; drop in when you’re free or stay for longer. Mass is at 9.30am and there will be a closing liturgy at 2pm. Tea and coffee will be available all day. Venue: St Laurence’s Church 91 Milton Road, CB4 1XB

Further information about Emmaus in Cambridge is available on their website

For more information about Caritas in East Anglia see the Diocesan website.