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Former homeless people create ‘magical’ new sculpture

PUBLISHED: 18:42 04 October 2020 | UPDATED: 18:42 04 October 2020

Cecile Roberts, CEO of Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney with Trustee Natalie Sharley. Picture: Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney

Cecile Roberts, CEO of Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney with Trustee Natalie Sharley. Picture: Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney

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A Norfolk charity is supporting those who were formerly homeless to forge new skills.

Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney companian Paul working on the scultpure in the forge. Picture: Emmaus Norfolk & WaveneyEmmaus Norfolk & Waveney companian Paul working on the scultpure in the forge. Picture: Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney

It comes as a unique project, which is being run by Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, has seen a blacksmith’s forge installed at its site on the former Old Hallows Convent in Ditchingham.

Now home to up to 32 former homeless people, those living within the Emmaus community – known as companions – have been getting creative with leading metal sculptor Leigh Dyer.

The sculpture. Picture: Emmaus Norfolk & WaveneyThe sculpture. Picture: Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney

They are working to produce a sculpture that will go on display in the orchard that sits at the centre of the Ditchingham site. The orchard is open to visitors to the Emmaus shop and Orchard Café.

It is hoped that the sculpture, which has been designed and created by the Emmaus team, will feature in the Raveningham Sculpture Trail 2021.

Cecile Roberts, chief executive of Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, said: “We are delighted to have Leigh here with us at Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney to create a completely unique piece of artwork.

“He is an incredibly talented artist so it’s a real honour to be working with him on this project.

“I’m excited to see what he and the team here create, and it will go on display in our orchard for everyone to enjoy and admire when they come to visit our shop and café.”

Mr Dyer, sculptor, added: “I am so excited to be working with the community at Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney to make a sculpture as the first thing their new forge produces.

“Together we have created a design of an oversized apple leaf skeleton containing a treehouse.

“This reflects Emmaus’ values of providing a safe home to people, and fits with the history of their site.

“It is also magical, and there is something magic about the work Emmaus is doing here in Norfolk.

“I’ve loved working with the team here and we all look forward to sharing our sculpture with you.”

Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney provides those facing homelessness or social exclusion with a home for as long as needed and also the opportunity of meaningful work in a social enterprise.

This includes working in the charity’s three shops in Ditchingham, Bungay and Norwich, and upcycling donated items is a big part of this.

Their new forge will give the Emmaus companions the ability to upcycle some of the metal items that are donated to the charity, along with creating new, bespoke items which will be sold in the shops.


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