Homelessness charity Emmaus providing emergency furniture packages during pandemic

Emmaus chief executive John Chesters after a furniture package delivery.

Emmaus chief executive John Chesters after a furniture package delivery. - Credit: Archant

Homeless support charity Emmaus Hertfordshire has launched a coronavirus community support scheme in response to local need.

Emmaus resident Curtis Littleford in front of the toothbrushes donated to Watford General Hospital.

Emmaus resident Curtis Littleford in front of the toothbrushes donated to Watford General Hospital. - Credit: Archant

In the past few weeks, the charity has experienced a huge increase in calls for emergency furniture packages from all over the county and even into Beds.

Local authorities, housing providers and coronavirus support groups are appealing for essential furniture. Beds, chairs, and sofas are just a few of the items that people in isolation need, along with full furniture packages for the homeless being housed at short notice.

Patrick Flanagan received one of these packages from Emmaus after getting in touch with Herts Help: “Karina and John, from Emmaus, were extremely helpful, I will be forever grateful.

“I was getting over a back operation and moved to a new place but came with nothing. I was put on to Emmaus by Clarion Housing and Herts Help. I couldn’t believe what Emmaus sorted out for me. I have some where to sit, I got a fridge and bits for the bedroom. I am very thankful for all the hard work during these tough times.”

Despite losing nearly 70 per cent of the charity’s income overnight following the temporary closure of their shops, Emmaus rallied together a team of their residents - people who were formerly homeless - and staff.

Furniture was sourced from their five charity shops and the deliveries started, offering hope in the form of furniture to residents distancing themselves from coronavirus.

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Emmaus even managed to source and deliver over 30 televisions to a Keystage Housing in Luton, to keep their formerly homeless tenants going through the lockdown. They have also recently provided hundreds of toothbrushes to NHS staff and patients at Watford General Hospital.

Joanne Etty from Clarion Housing said: “A previously homeless person, who had been housed through Clarion, had no furniture apart from a bed and with their physical health issues, this was having a massive impact on their wellbeing and physical health. Emmaus provided the tenant with a sofa and in such a short time. We are now just trying to sort them out with some white goods to further support them. Thank you to Emmaus for all you have done.”

St Albans district council head of housing Karen Dragovic added: “Emmaus have provided help to the council housing department to assist vulnerable tenants moving on from temporary accommodation into permanent homes. The residents needed to be moved, without delay and Emmaus provided the essentials in the form of a furniture pack to allow them to set up home in their properties which would otherwise have been unfurnished.

“Emmaus reacted very quickly to the request for assistance and provided good quality used furniture at a fraction of the cost of new. They worked quickly alongside hoising staff to deliver the furniture packages direct to the tenants’ homes whist ensuring that social distancing was observed at all times.”

Not only have their large green vans been delivering these emergency packs, but they have also been collecting and distributing donated food to the local foodbanks and waste food to animal shelters struggling to feed their animals during this crisis.

Emmaus’ house clearance service manager Andy was also drafted in to help local authorities complete emergency property clearances, to ready them for people who were living on the street and needed emergency housing.

Emmaus retail manager Karina Griffiths added: “The past few weeks have been quite challenging. The amount of people across our county that needed access to furniture, and literally overnight, was astounding, and just at the time our shops had to shut to adhere to government guidelines. So, we set up our community support scheme and the requests are still coming thick and fast.”

Emmaus is asking for financial support to help with the furniture support scheme and to help care for their formerly homeless residents based in St Albans. Visit www.emmaus.org.uk/hertfordshire to make a donation.