On Friday 26 November, Emmaus Suffolk welcomed friends, volunteers and families to the official opening of their new community café and hub at The Royal Oak, a new safe haven for vulnerable people in need of aid in Suffolk.
Not only will The Royal Oak Community Café offer a range of wholesome, fairly priced meals, but it will enable the Emmaus team to run a whole host of free events for the community, including a gardening club, sewing group, music club, upcycling workshop, and weekly social hubs where anyone can just drop-in for a cuppa or try their hand at an arts and crafts project.
While attending these groups and workshops, guests will also be able to access Emmaus Suffolk’s support services for help with budgeting, job-seeking, benefits, and physical and mental wellbeing. Most importantly, The Royal Oak provides the team with further opportunities to offer a safe, welcoming and supportive space to people in Ipswich.
Emmaus Suffolk is a charity that works with vulnerable, socially-isolated and long-term unemployed people, and those at risk of homelessness across the east of the county. They support people by enabling and empowering them to help themselves through meaningful activity that will benefit both themselves and others.
Their ambition is to expand so that they can offer their unique approach to tackling loneliness, isolation, unemployment and homelessness across Suffolk.
Plenty of people attended the event, including Terry Waite CBE, President of Emmaus UK, and long-time supporter of Emmaus Suffolk. In a moving speech, Terry discussed his time in captivity in Beruit and how it changed his view on those in need.
He stated, “I’d always had sympathy for those on the margins of life, the prisoner, the homeless, people who have little or nothing but one of the things that did happen in those years of captivity was that sympathy changed to empathy. I empathised with what it was like to be kicked around, to have nothing, to be cold, to be hungry and to be, in fact, regarded as nothing.
“Here we are in 2021 facing exceptional difficulties and we expect the coming years to be pretty tough and that homelessness is only going to increase. Emmaus bases itself on working together for the betterment of the wider community. We will face what comes with courage and determination. So thank you, once again, for being there with us.”
The launch of the Community Cafe was also a chance to celebrate Emmaus Suffolk’s five years of operation. In that time alone, they’ve managed to work with 398 vulnerable individuals, 1,722 support issues and 3,813 interventions. The charity itself has become even more of a necessity during the pandemic, in which many people found themselves jobless or on the streets.
Claire Staddon, Chief Executive of Emmaus Suffolk, said: “Covid-19 has been a marked influence on us all, and I know many of you have suffered your own thoughts, struggles and vulnerabilities because of it.
“That’s what Emmaus Suffolk is all about, it’s not about ‘those people’ that need help, we all need help. A lot of people don’t have anybody else that they know, a lot of people don’t have anybody else as family, we are the family for those people, we are the people that make people feel safe to be here.
“We have all made sacrifices this year but think about those luxuries we made those sacrifices in. Every single one of you are here because something you did enabled Emmaus Suffolk to get to this point and so I’d like to say the biggest thank you.”
To visit the new Emmaus Suffolk’s Community Hub, simply head to The Royal Oak at 175 Felixstowe Road, Ipswich. Doors to our Community Cafe open 9am, Wednesday 1st December. To make a donation to Emmaus Suffolk or to find out how you can volunteer with them, follow this link: https://emmaus.org.uk/suffolk/support-us/