Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall will be paying a Christmas visit to homelessness charity, Emmaus Hastings & Rother, on Thursday 5 December.
The Duchess will be given a guided tour of the community by Mary Rigg, who joined her earlier this year on a trip to visit Emmaus in Paris. The Duchess of Cornwall has been Royal Patron of Emmaus UK since 2006 and regularly visits Emmaus communities to learn more about the charity’s work and meet the people it helps.
Although Mary has met the Duchess before, this is the first time Her Royal Highness will have visited Emmaus Hastings & Rother and during the visit she will officially open the community’s accommodation block.
Emmaus Hastings & Rother provides a home and meaningful work for 15 people who have experienced homelessness. Companions, as the residents at Emmaus are known, live on site in purpose-built housing and work in the charity’s social enterprise, a shop selling second-hand furniture and other donated items, and a recently opened café.
Mary Rigg came to Emmaus after a relationship broke down and she found herself homeless. Initially she lived at Emmaus Brighton & Hove, but moved to Hastings & Rother last year. She has recently been very involved in opening the new café, Charlie’s, and has responsibility for running it day to day.
Mary said: “We’re really looking forward to having The Duchess visit Emmaus Hastings & Rother. When I met her earlier this year I was overwhelmed by how much she knew about Emmaus and what a fantastic supporter she is.
“Seeing the Emmaus community in Paris, which has been around for 60 years, showed me what could be possible for Emmaus Hastings & Rother. We’re still a relatively new community but there is lots of potential here to grow. The new café is our latest venture and I’m really pleased to be taking such an active role in getting that up and running.
“I hope The Duchess will be impressed by what she sees at Emmaus Hastings & Rother. Her visit will be a real Christmas treat for the community.”
During her visit, Her Royal Highness will officially open the accommodation block on site. Known as Charlie Jordan House, the building is being named in memory of the first Chairman of Emmaus Hastings & Rother, who sadly died just after the group took ownership of the community site in 2009.
David Cooper, Chairman of Emmaus Hastings & Rother, said: “Charlie Jordan was a inspirational man and was the person who had the vision and the drive to get this community going. For many years he was Chairman of Emmaus Brighton & Hove, but he recognised a need for more homelessness provision in Hastings & Rother, so pulled together a group of people to get a new community started here.
We will be eternally grateful for what Charlie did, and it seems fitting that the building should be named after him as a permanent reminder of this. Having The Duchess of Cornwall here to support this is an honour, and a great tribute to Charlie.”
About Emmaus Hastings & Rother
Hastings & Rother was the 21st Emmaus community to open in the UK. The social enterprise is based in a former Southern Water building and the accommodation has been constructed on site as modular accommodation blocks.
The shop opened on site in 2009, run by volunteers who were committed to raising the money needed to open the accommodation block. Their dreams were realised in June 2011 when the first of the accommodation “modules” opened, providing nine companion rooms. A second block was then added, creating an additional six rooms.
The accommodation building is constructed from high-quality; factory built modular units, giving maximum flexibility and speed of deployment at less than half the cost of many communities.
The final phase of the building will be added in 2014, bringing the total number of companion places to 23.
The Greenhouse, the inspirational new community garden project at Emmaus Brighton & Hove, has been operating from its temporary home since March 2013 in the rear of the Main Shop. This area has been used over the spring and summer months for trading while building works were being carried out. The room was decorated and styled in the colours we had chosen for our new brand – for the retail space as well as for promotional materials.
The construction works were held up for a considerable time while we waited for planning permission from Brighton & Hove City Council Planning Department and work finally started in earnest at the beginning of July.
Alongside the construction works, work on the community allotment progressed well during the spring and summer. Companions cleared an area which was used for greenhouses and raised beds using recycled materials – for example, wooden doors were used to create raised beds along with wooden sewing baskets for strawberry plants and the large builder’s sacks for potatoes. The Community kitchens enjoyed the array of produce – tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, salad leaves, potatoes, beans and carrots – all enjoyed by Companions at mealtimes.
Phase 1 is almost complete. The terrace at the rear of the shop has been rebuilt and extended and a beautiful Victorian style greenhouse now leans against the rear of the main building. Railings and pathways have been installed.
We opened the doors to the actual greenhouse on 10th October. The space looks beautiful. Despite the weather turning more autumnal outdoors, the plants create a very colourful impact indoors.
Phase 2 of the building works is now being undertaken. This involves refurbishing the old boiler room and creating a retail space. The leaking roof has been removed and the contractors arrived on site on 14th October to fit the new roof. After that the utilities will be installed - heating, lighting and water and then we will fit out the shop and decorate throughout. We anticipate this work will be completed by November.
We intend to trade throughout the winter months from this lovely indoor environment, preparing for a more high profile launch event in the spring. The space at the rear of the shop is being landscaped. Companions and volunteers have moved what seems like a mountain of top soil to prepare for grass seeding, not forgetting the 400 bulbs which have also been planted to give a burst of colour in the spring.
The Greenhouse is the culmination of a shared vision and passion for making better use of the extensive Emmaus grounds as well as create an exciting new business for the Community.
Grow Your Tenner 2013. Localgiving.com is matching up to £10 of donations