A CHARITY that fights homelessness is creating 30 new jobs in Redditch.
Emmaus UK has launched a new textiles and clothing sorting business at 52 Heming Road, Washford, with help from property agents John Truslove. The aim is to raise money for the parent charity and to increase the re-use and recycling of clothes.The venture will also produce 40 volunteer opportunities.
Emmaus Textiles is also set to establish a café and shop within the town centre which will provide three full time jobs and 15-20 volunteer opportunities. Unlike most Emmaus shops which sell donated goods, the Redditch one will sell new products thanks to an arrangement with a major high street retailer.
Emmaus Communities offer homeless people a home, work and the chance to rebuild their lives. There are currently 24 in the UK and several more in development but the only West Midlands one is in Coventry.
Heming Road will be the UK distribution centre for the clothing side.
Clothes are sorted and re-sold, with the bulk going for export to Africa and Pakistan. Previously this was handled through private merchants but Emmaus Textiles has taken over this role.
Project manager Neil Booker said: “The centre is operational, we have our first two employees, we are taking on another six and it will continue to roll out from there.
“Obviously Redditch is a very central location in England but another reason we chose the town was because we have only a small presence in the West Midlands.”
Homeless people are being given priority for the distribution centre work and are being paid the living wage rather than the minimum wage.
John Truslove partner Ian Parker said: “Emmaus is a fantastic charity, doing tremendous work with those who desperately need help.
“Their arrival is a significant asset for the town.”
Emmaus Communities enable people to move on from homelessness, providing work and a home in a supportive environment. Companions, as residents are known, work full time collecting renovating and reselling donated furniture, clothing, bedding and household goods.
Companions have become homeless for a variety of reasons – relationship breakdown, job loss or bereavement. Many struggle with alcohol and drug dependency. Those coming to Emmaus must be prepared to work and to sign off Job Seekers Allowance. Those addicted to alcohol or drugs must want to overcome this, as no alcohol or drugs are allowed in communities
The work supports the community financially and enables residents to develop skills, rebuild their self-respect and help others in similar need.
Companions receive accommodation, food, clothing and a small weekly allowance, but for many, the greatest benefit is a fresh start.
Mr Booker said: “The perception of people who are homeless is that they are a drain on society, but the residents of Emmaus Communities turn this perception on its head. Not only do they work to support themselves, they also work to help others."