Emmaus Hertfordshire and St Albans and District Food Bank have teamed up on an exciting project which will result in an increase in support for those experiencing homelessness and food poverty across the county.
Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, visited the Hill End site accompanied by Cllr Jacqui Taylor, chair of the housing and inclusion committee. They met with members of the Emmaus community and learned more about the project and how it will benefit those most in need.
The project will see part of the Emmaus site at Hill End, St Albans, redeveloped to create a permanent home for the Food Bank, and will enable Emmaus Hertfordshire to expand the support services offered to formerly homeless people now living at its community.
At the heart of the development will be a 250sqm storage space which will become the permanent home of St Albans and District Foodbank. In the last 12 months the charity has seen a 150% increase in the demand for its services but will shortly find itself without a base from which to serve its six distribution hubs throughout the District. This new building at Hill End will transform their ability to support families facing food poverty in the surrounding area.
The development includes the construction of several new workshops and recycling areas which will be used by Emmaus Hertfordshire. Emmaus Hertfordshire is a charity which provides a home, meaningful work opportunities and training for up to 39 formerly homeless people – known as companions – from its Hill End community.
All companions are offered training, support and hands-on work experience. The new workshop space means this training can be extended further, offering more people than ever the chance to learn new skills, gain qualifications and start to rebuild their lives following homelessness.
Emmaus Hertfordshire is primarily self-funded, supporting itself through its social enterprises which include a successful house clearance service and four charity shops across the county. The development means the charity will be able to accept more donations of second-hand furniture, clothing and household items, will be able to upcycle more items to sell, and will be able to increase its online retail presence.
Daisy said: “It’s fantastic to see this initiative happening, which will benefit both organisations while further serving the needs of the community.
“I really enjoyed visiting the site and meeting the staff and companions again. It’s clear that everyone’s really passionate about the project, and excited to see it get started as soon as possible.”
Duncan Lewis, CEO of Emmaus Hertfordshire said: “Hill End has been our home for almost 20 years but thanks to our ongoing success we need more space so we can increase the support available to people rebuilding their lives after homelessness.
“The redevelopment of part of our site will enable us to increase the support and training opportunities we can provide to formerly homeless people while at the same time increase our recycling activities, reducing the amount that goes to local landfill every year.”
Mark Pontin, trustee from St Albans and District Food Bank said: “The demand for St Albans & District Foodbank’s help has grown significantly over the seven years since its inception meaning that it has had to move warehouse premises many times. Our current landlord, who generously donated space to us, shortly requires its premises back and without a warehouse there is no foodbank.
“The opportunity of securing a permanent base at the Emmaus Hill End site is a one off and will further cement the already close relationship and complimentary offerings of both organisations for the benefit of those most in need in our community.”
To find out more about The Hill End Project or to support the project by making a financial donation please visit www.hillendproject.org.uk