Beirut hostage Terry Waite to launch charity’s Hebburn store

Terry Waite with Sue Wilson, of Emmaus North East and companions Paul Barnes, Anthony Flower and Leigh Armour.
Terry Waite with Sue Wilson, of Emmaus North East and companions Paul Barnes, Anthony Flower and Leigh Armour.

Former Beirut hostage Terry Waite will be in South Tyneside next month to officially launch a charity’s two new initiatives to help the homeless.

He will highlight Emmaus North East’s work by cutting a ribbon to open its social enterprise shop in St James Mall, Hebburn.

Mr Waite CBE, who is president of the Emmaus Federation in the UK, will then travel to South Shields to welcome guests to its Stanhope Road residential support home.

Emmaus has invested £850,000 in creating the 15-bedroom centre, which provides accommodation and often life-changing support to people - called companions - made homeless.

His visit, on Saturday, September 2, is the culmination of around two years of work by the charity to establish a presence in South Tyneside.

Sue Wilson CBE, president of Emmaus North East, said: “Terry really appreciates having a sense of home and of having people around and feeling safe and secure.

“He will cut the ribbon and make a short speech in Hebburn, and we would love people to come along and meet him.

“Emmaus has received a tremendous welcome in South Tyneside and we look forward to working here.”

Mr Waite, a former envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was seized by terror group Hezbollah in 1987.

He spent 1,763 days in captivity, before being released in Lebanon in 1992, becoming resident of the Emmaus Federation shortly afterwards.

His experience gave him insight into what Emmaus describes as the misery, isolation, fear, boredom and despair that many homeless people go through.

Emmaus provides accommodation, work and support for homeless people to recover their self-confidence and learn new skills to enable them to move on to independent living and employment.

Its South Shields centre, created from a former children’s home that had been left to decay, is its 29th UK community residence.

Around 750 people, known as companions, are supported by Emmaus, which has a target to increase that to 1,000 by 2020.

The charity’s Hebburn outlet will sell a variety of furniture, books, fashion, and collectables, money from which supports its work.

The shop, and another at Low Fell, Gateshead, provide a place for companions to gain new skills and re-build confidence.

More information on Emmaus is at www.emmaus.org.uk