Neighbours of new homeless shelter in South Shields invited to look around as work continues

Local councillors at the Emmaus House in Stanhope Road, South Shields.
Local councillors at the Emmaus House in Stanhope Road, South Shields.

A new homeless shelter in South Shields invited people to see the work in progress.

Charity Emmaus North East has been revamping the former children’s home in Stanhope Road since the start of the year.

With work nearing an end, people were invited to take a look around inside on Saturday.

The building, which was derelict for many years, had fallen into a state of disrepair.

But soon it will able to house 15 residents, who are known as companions.

Project development manager, Sian Thomas, said: “We’ve invited people along to have a look around because we wanted them to see the work in progress rather than just the finished product.

“Lots of neighbours and members of the public have popped in for a look and that’s been important to us because we wanted to make sure that they were happy that we were opening the home here, and there’s been a very warm welcome.

“People are glad the building is being used again because it was empty for about 20 years and was full of rats and quite a lot of rubbish.”

The home will comprise of 15 bedrooms for companions, each fitted with a washbasin and furnished with wardrobes and drawers donated by Newcastle University.

Sian added: “Jarrow Carpets are also donating rugs to us and in the next week we’ll be launching a fundraising campaign in the hope of raising £20,000 from the public.

“We want to build an extension on the side of the building that would be a training kitchen to help people gain health and safety certificates and things like that.

“Everyone who lives here will have to work 40 hours a week, and there’s no drink or drugs allowed. They won’t be able to just stay in their bedrooms, they’ll have to work 40 hours a week and the aim is to get them living their own lives and into their own homes – that’s what they want.”

Charity bosses also say they want the people living at the house to be part of the community.

Sian added: “We don’t want this to be an isolated place. We want it to be a positive thing in the community.

“Those living here will be doing things like helping people out in their gardens and helping out at West Park.

“Our training kitchen will be the only one in South Tyneside and it wouldn’t just be for those living here, we’d be able to invite members of the public to use it too.”

The charity is still looking for bedding, towels and kitchen equipment for the home.

Anyone who is able to donate anything to the charity should email sian.thomas@emmaus-northeast.org.uk

Charity overwhelmed by support

A new homeless shelter in South Shields aims to help people get back on their feet.

The former children’s home in Stanhope Road, which has been taken over by charity Emmaus North East, will be home to 15 formerly homeless people once work is completed later this year.

The residents, known as companions, will work in the charity’s shops and workshops reconditioning and upcycling donated household goods.

The charity aims to help them learn useful work skills and recover their self-confidence and eventually move on into mainstream employment and independent living.

Sue Wilson, chair of Emmaus North East, said: “We take single people who are not classed as being in need by the local authority so they have no obligation to help them.

“They can go from sofa to sofa and hostel to hostel and never get settled. It’s a vicious circle.”

She added: “Things are getting exciting now as we see the residence taking shape and we are starting to furnish the upper floors. Corporate partners are coming forward to offer help as they like the entrepreneurial nature of the project.

“Newcastle University has donated all the bedroom furniture from a hall of residence they are demolishing, Akzo Nobel has supplied the paint and Sage Computer employees have been painting on their community days.

“Local residents have been calling in with donations and we are quite frankly overwhelmed with people’s generosity. We still have some money to raise but can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”