Homelessness charity set to reopen popular shop

The Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney team at Ditchingham.

The Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney team at Ditchingham. Picture: Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney - Credit: Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney

A homelessness charity is set to reopen its shop doors after being closed for more than a year.

The popular Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney shop in Ditchingham was closed on March 16 last year in line with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Based at the All Hallows Convent, Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney is also home to 32 formerly homeless people, so the charity decided to keep the site closed to the public until the autumn to keep the residents safe.

But just before it was due to reopen in November, the second national lockdown was announced..

A third lockdown in January followed, meaning the doors of the shop have been closed for more than 12 months.

Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney opened a second shop in Norwich’s Castle Quarter in September, which was also forced to close in line with the national lockdown.

The Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney van.

The Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney van. Picture: Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney - Credit: Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney 

As the charity receives the majority of its income from the sale of donated items through its shops, these closures have had a large financial impact.

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This has meant the charity has had to find new ways of supporting its companions - the 32 formerly homeless people who all work within the Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney social enterprises.

This included the installation of a blacksmith forge and new allotments in the community garden, so the companions could grow their own fruit and veg in the grounds of the former convent they now call home.

The companions also helped create 10 new bedrooms at the Ditchingham community and have completely redecorated the Ditchingham shop.

Cecile Roberts, chief executive of Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, said: “When we first shut our Ditchingham shop back in March 2020, we had no idea the doors would remain closed for such a long time, so we are very excited to be reopening on April 13.

“Our Ditchingham site is a special place, and the 32 formerly homeless people we support call it home.

"Our team can’t wait to throw the doors open next Tuesday and welcome back our lovely customers who we have missed so much."

The Ditchingham shop will open from 10am to 4.30pm Tuesday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.

The Norwich Castle Quarter shop will open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday.