Emmaus Dover is a self-supporting homelessness charity which currently house 28 formerly homeless men and women. As with all Emmaus communities, Dover offers meaningful work and a place within a community to support each Companions’, as the former homeless people are called, needs.
Situated on the historical site of Archcliffe Fort, Companions are able to stay in the community as long as they wish but they must sign off all benefits except for Housing Benefit which helps towards the cost of their accommodation. In return they are asked to work in the community in a range of roles according to their skills, ability and interests for example renovating furniture which has been donated by local residents.
One Companion described living at Emmaus Dover as: “We are a bit like the furniture that arrives here – battered, bruised and broken. But overtime we are restored, renovated and brought back to life.”
The community comprises of several buildings set on a large Scheduled Monument site dating back to the 1370’s. For more than a decade there has been no new development on the site and maintenance has generally followed a ‘make do and mend’ approach as finances were limited. As a result the buildings were tired and the design not best suited for today’s community, retail and business needs.
Emmaus Dover Trustees approached CRASH for urgent help to develop the site including their warehouse and shop which are vital for their retail enterprise as well as creating additional accommodation to enable them to take in more Companions.
After an initial visit with Patrons Argent and Arcadis, BAM Design Architects and Engineers then undertook a full site survey which informed a schedule of works.
Thanks to support from CRASH Patrons Buildbase, Hanson and Knauf these works have so far have included the renovation of two semi-detached houses to increase the number of rooms available for Companions from 21 to 29 and relocate the charity’s offices out of the shop and into more appropriate accommodation.
CRASH Patron Bauder, approved contractor G Baker Roofing and roof light specialist Xtralite then teamed up to help with the refurbishment of Emmaus Dover’s shop roof which was leaking. As the retail element is one of the main sources of income for the charity, the roof along with new insulation for the shop floor was vital.
The completion of Phase 1 of these works saw Companions Richard, Anthony, Michael, Shaun, Steve, Elliott, Russell and Dan along with Canterbury Archaeological Trust’s Keith Parfitt and other Volunteers take up their shovels and spades to help dig a trench in which a new gas pipe will be laid connecting the relocated gas tank to provide heating to the shop for the first time. The gas tank, supplied by local firm Rose Gas, will also provide heating for the newly refurbished accommodation.
Donations of professional expertise from CRASH Patrons Arcadis, Argent, BAM, Bauder and Knauf worth £49,624 along with free materials from fellow Patrons Bauder, BAM, Buildbase and Hanson worth £25,337 were added to a cash grant of £30,000 awarded by CRASH bringing the total value of support to £104,961.
Debra Stevenson, Community Manager, Emmaus Dover said:
“We really couldn’t have got to this stage without the valuable help, advice, materials and funding from CRASH and their patrons. Our shop has a brand new roof that is fully insulated for the winter months and after 22 years the shop will have a heating supply so companions and visitors will get a warmer welcome in the winter.”