MEP backs charity looking to help the homeless in South Shields

A charity which needs funds to help tackle homelessness in South Tyneside is looking to raise £140,000 to renovate a former children's home in South Shields.
Sian Thomas, centre director for Emmaus, and MEP Judith Kirton-Darling.Sian Thomas, centre director for Emmaus, and MEP Judith Kirton-Darling.
Sian Thomas, centre director for Emmaus, and MEP Judith Kirton-Darling.

Emmaus UK, which is working on the building in Stanhope Road, South Shields, was visited by North East MEP Judith Kirton-Darling.

The charity aims to open this autumn and will house 15 people who currently live on the streets.

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Ms Kirton-Darling said: “These kinds of projects are an asset to any local community. They help those who are arguably the most in need of help.

“This centre will hopefully be a place where people can get their lives back on track.”

She has also made a donation to the charity through its Virgin Money Giving page and is hoping the public will also get involved.

The £200,000 house was bought by the charity after looking at different locations around the region including Durham and Gateshead.

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The international charity is well established throughout the country but this is the first centre to be opened in the North East, with the closest being in Leeds.

The charity also aims to have workshops, where the residents will rejuvenate old furniture to sell in one of the charity shops in the area.  

The aim would be to make the home self-funded in the future.

Local builder Darren, who is working on the property, said: “I didn’t realise this place was this big until I stepped inside.

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“After pulling down all the old partition walls, we discovered so much.

“There’s loads of work to do, but it’s all for a good cause, and if it helps the right people then I’m willing to do my bit.”

Terry Waite, the president of Emmaus UK, is due to be at the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, tonight from 6pm to talk about the project and for former homeless people to speak to local residents.

Mr Waite spent almost five years as a hostage in Lebanon, much of it in solitary confinement. He was released in 1992.