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New warehouse for Emmaus charity that helps former homeless people in Dover, after £45,000 grant"I like the variety, it keeps me moving – it keeps me alive..."

A new warehouse will be built by a charity that helps former homeless people in Dover after it received a £45,000 cash boost.

Emmaus Dover provides a home for up to 27 people for as long as they need it and the opportunity to gain new skills in its charity shops in Ashford, Canterbury and Dover.

Lawrence O'Sullivan - A companion at Emmaus Dover. Picture Emmaus
Lawrence O'Sullivan - A companion at Emmaus Dover. Picture Emmaus

Residents of the charity, known as companions, live in a communal setting, receive support to rebuild their lives and work together to upcycle and sell donated items to raise funds for the community.

The charity received the grant from the Clothworkers’ Foundation for Phase one of its Building a Better Future project which aims to secure the long-term future and sustainability of the branch.

The project will develop facilities at the Archcliffe Fort site to create more opportunities for companions, increase revenue, provide new income streams and create a historical place of interest for the people living, working and visiting Dover and the Fort.

Phase one of the four-phase Building a Better Future project is to create a new modern workshop for repairing and up-scaling furniture for resale and refurbish the existing workshop space to become a new warehouse, PAT testing area and storage.

Items from the workshop are then sold in the three Emmaus shops in Canterbury, Dover and Ashford.

The work will cost £250,000 and over £190,000 has already been raised.

Work will start once all of the funds have been secured.

Companions at Emmaus are all formerly homeless and learn new skills in the workshop.

They also gain qualifications to test electrical items before they are sold.

Lawrence, a companion at Emmaus Dover, said: “I have come on leaps and bounds in the time that I’ve been here.

"I work in the warehouse, in the shop and I’m now a qualified PAT tester. This means I can test electrical items to ensure they are safe to be sold.

"I like the variety; it keeps me moving – it keeps me alive.

"My main goal for the future is employment. I am going to look into doing something with the PAT testing and warehouse skills I’ve gained whilst I’ve been here. To be honest, that I am actually still alive now is a miracle in itself. Emmaus has been there for me throughout my journey and I’m truly grateful.”

Debbie Stevenson, Community Manager at Emmaus Dover, said: “We are grateful to The Clothworker’s Foundation for this incredible donation. The funding means that we are one step closer to starting the work for phase one of our Building a Better Future project.

"This will ensure that we can continue to support people who have been homeless and socially excluded by providing a home, training and the opportunity to work.”

The charity temporarily suspended all retail operations at the beginning of lockdown to ensure the safety of its residents, staff, volunteers, customers and the local community during the current situation.

With new measures in place, Emmaus Dover has now reopened its shop at Archcliffe Fort.

For more information on shop re-opening follow @emmausindover on Facebook.

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