Burnley community key to better mental health for formerly homeless people
A group of formerly homeless people supported by the charity Emmaus Burnley are celebrating the value of community kindness as part of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week runs until Sunday. This year’s theme focuses on the power and potential of ‘kindness’.
Being part of both an Emmaus community and the wider Burnley community gives beneficiaries of the charity an opportunity to make new friends, get involved in positive activities and contribute to wider society.
Liam O’Sullivan, one of the formerly homeless people supported by Emmaus Burnley, said: “My problems started when my wife passed away – I gave up. My sister took me in for a bit and then I just felt I was putting too much on people, so I lived on the streets for a while, sleeping under bridges and things like that.
“I joined Emmaus Burnley in August 2018. Before I joined Emmaus I didn’t have the awareness I do now. I’ve learnt a lot and I’m more understanding because I’ve heard from people with different life experiences, and I’m still learning. I don’t know where I’d be without Emmaus and I know that’s the same for a lot of people. It’s a good model that just works.”
Emmaus Burnley supports 22 formerly homeless people by providing them with a home, support, training and work in a community setting. The charity runs a social enterprise in Burnley and Rochdale, selling donated furniture, household goods, clothes and vintage wares.
Unlike many other homelessness charities, Emmaus Burnley offers a home for as long as someone needs it. Living in a community can provide the companionship and support that many people who have experienced homelessness have lost.
Stephen Buchanan, director of Emmaus Burnley, said: “Over the past few weeks many people have had to socially isolate and the value of community has become much more important.
“The people we support at Emmaus have faced difficulties in the past but are now working together as a community to improve their lives and make a positive impact. As Liam explains above, kindness and better understanding of different people can have a really positive impact on personal development.”
To find out more or support Emmaus Burnley head to https://emmaus.org.uk/burnley.
As part of MHAW, the charity, Mental Health Foundation, is encouraging everyone to share stories of kindness on social media during the week using the tags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. For more information visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/.