FOR A decade people who have faced homelessness and social exclusion in Oxford have been supported by charity Emmaus.

The homelessness charity has worked tirelessly throughout those ten years to help provide home and work for people who have been homeless.

To mark the momentous achievement the charity hosted its very own 10th birthday bash on Monday at its base in Cowley.

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There was cake, a buffet, and a photo exhibition featuring the history and growth of the charity.

Emmaus Oxford general manager Eddie Blaze said: "The celebration was a real success.

"It was a chance to showcase what we do as a charity, giving key partners as well as old and new supporters, the opportunity to meet some of the people we support and find out first-hand how we help.

"Our 10th anniversary has given us an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come as a charity."

The charity says it has grown considerably since it first flung open its doors in 2009. On its website it says: "We have also grown in other not so obvious ways: increasing companion numbers and introducing new structures and systems to improve the support and opportunities we provide to companions.

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"None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of our Friends, donors and supporters, as well as the hard work of volunteers, staff and most importantly, the companions themselves."

Emmaus currently provides work and a home for 28 people who have experienced homeless or social exclusion. Some people stay for a while as they gain confidence and skills before they are ready to move to independent living situations, and others need longer-term support and stay as long as they need to.

Those people staying at the charity base live together and work in the charity's store on Barns Road.

Darren, who is currently being supported by the charity, works in the shop. He said: "For 12 years I was in and out of homelessness; it was all I knew.

"Sleeping at the side of bypasses and in hedgerows was normal for me.

"Now, I have moved to Emmaus things feel more secure.

"Six months in, and the team here are supporting me with my issues. My mental health is improving day by day.

"I’m actually learning things too, because I’m working as well. I help to run the charity store van service, collecting and delivering furniture for customers.

"I’m also being given the chance to gain some qualifications.

"Emmaus has helped me achieve things I didn’t think were possible. I’ve finally got a place to call home, for as long as I need it."

The Oxford Times:

The homelessness charity is based on Oxford Road, but has its charity shop in Barns Road.

The store sells second-hand furniture and white goods to help raise funds for the charity.

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Mr Blaze added: "Unfortunately, with homelessness numbers continuing to rise, our work today is more vital than ever before.

"Over the next 10 years we will be helping even more people and strengthening our financial independence."

Details

emmaus.org.uk/oxford