Homeless Charity Emmaus won a free photoshoot in our product photography promotion this summer. We were looking for an opportunity to put something back into the community and this seemed like a very good fit. It's not Product Photography but the Emmaus Photography Project shows another side of what we do.
Who Are Emmaus
Emmaus are a charity dedicated to ending homelessness. They run communities providing work and a home for their members. The community members are called Companions. Emmaus began their work in France after the second world war and as that work became recognised, expanded across four continents. They came to the UK in 1992 and now support 28 communities around the country. Each community provides a home and work for homeless people who renounce their social security benefits in return for work, a wage and a home. Those benefits are paid directly to Emmaus, but the key difference is Emmaus provide a home and support for the Companions until they are ready to move on.
Emmaus do work in the community that provides a purpose and a home for homeless people. They perform gardening services, run shops selling donated furniture and bric a brac. They maintain the buildings they lodge in and in doing so rediscover their self esteem and build a sense of purpose.
A Day in the Life
I worked with the Companions at the Vicarage in Coventry to put together a visual record of their activities for the Emmaus website. I was allowed access to counselling sessions and interviewed several companions. There is a tremendous feeling of community around Emmaus. The Companions are very supportive of one another and the staff are very supportive of the Companions.
I spent the morning at The Vicarage in Coventry. I photographed the Community dwelling and some work that was being done refurbishing one of the bedrooms. I photographed Companions playing the guitar, gardening and taking part in counselling sessions. As a photographer its important to establish a rapport with the subject of the photograph so there were times I took no photographs at all, just listened and talked with the Companions.
The Emmaus Photography Project
When I arrived at the Vicarage I was unsure what to expect but this was one of the most satisfying and rewarding projects I've worked on this year.
Homelessness sometimes comes with addiction issues, mental health issues and even historical abuse issues and I was very impressed that Emmaus recognise this. They work to resolve the causes of the problems and provide proper and effective support. It's increasingly important work as Social Security in the UK is not nowadays the most supportive of environments.
I felt privileged to have met these people and to have been allowed into the community. It was eye opening for me and I hope the images do their subjects justice.