Emmaus Leeds resident praises charity during 15th anniversary

A Leeds man who used to be homeless has praised the charity which has helped him as it celebrates 15 years in the city.

Richard Bastow.

Emmaus Leeds has been marking the milestone this month with events including a party with special guest Terry Waite CBE, the organisation’s UK president.

The YEP has recently highlighted the charity’s work as part of a series of articles about the growing issues of homelessness, rough sleeping and begging in the city.

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Veteran reveals how Emmaus Leeds helped him rebuild after life on the streetsIt was set up in France by Abbé Pierre following the Second World War and came to the UK in 1991. The Leeds branch is now one of many around the world helping homeless people to rebuild their lives through work and shelter.

Fifteenth anniversary party at Emmaus Leeds.

The facility in St Mary’s Street, off Mabgate, runs a large second-hand shop staffed by people who have been homeless and live at the site’s supported living quarters, which caters for up to 26 people.

And one of its supported residents, Richard Bastow, has spoken of how Emmaus has helped him since 2010, when he was taken in after a relationship break-down.

He said he has been in and out ever since, “trying to make it on my own, but finding it hard to cope”.

At one point he left for three years and found a job, but it did not work out for him.

Mr Bastow said: “I came back in March and I’ve been here since.

“It seems to be a place I keep coming back to.

“I just seem to be one of those people that can’t make it on my own on the outside.

“With rent being expensive, with bills, I was never left with any money, whereas here, everything’s covered.”

He added: “For me, in the eight years I’ve been coming, it’s probably given me confidence, self-esteem. My confidence was fairly shot when I first came here.”

Mr Bastow has been able to travel abroad to work with some of Emmaus’ overseas projects in places like France and Bosnia.

“I’m in a good space at the moment,” he said.