Emmaus had been established in France for 40 years before it came to the UK in the early 1990s, all thanks to a chance encounter at a Cambridge soup kitchen.
In 1989, Cambridge businessman Selwyn Image was keen to find out what he could do to help from the people who were using the shelter. Selwyn remembered some work experience he had done 30 years previously in Paris, at a social enterprise which provided a home and work to people who had experienced homelessness. Selwyn managed to reach Abbé Pierre, the founder of the first EMMAUS community in Paris, told him he would like to open an Emmaus community in Cambridge, and Emmaus UK was born.
Since the first community opened in the UK in 1991, Emmaus has grown quickly. There are now 29 communities spread across the UK, with a further four groups currently working to establish new communities. The UK is now the largest Emmaus movement outside of France. There are now more than 750 Emmaus companions living at communities stretching from Glasgow to Dover. No two Emmaus communities are the same - each has its own individual personality, providing a set of services which meet the needs of its local area. For many, Emmaus offers a welcoming place to visit, to speak with companions, volunteers and staff.