A retiring charity Chief Executive is thanking the local community for helping him to turn homelessness charity Emmaus Hertfordshire around.
The St Albans-based charity provides a home and work for people who have experienced homelessness. It was not in a good state when Tony Ferrier took on the role of Chief Executive eight years ago: “The community had two shops in St Albans and Batford, but was struggling to survive, about to take out a £30,000 loan, had four vehicles all off the road and only 17 of its 24 rooms were occupied. We were a poor example of an Emmaus community with high staff turnover and not helping as many people as we could.”
When a person joins Emmaus, they are offered an alternative route out of homelessness within a supportive environment and the opportunity to gain new skills in its social enterprise, so that they can rebuild their confidence and self-esteem. In 2000, the charity could support 24 people.
Using his experience as a Director of Manufacturing for a £90 million turnover company, Tony made changes to the charity’s social enterprise, and within three years Emmaus Hertfordshire had opened five new shops, were balancing the books, and expanded its community house from 24 to 32 rooms, meaning it could help even more people who had experienced homelessness.
Eight years later, Emmaus Hertfordshire has grown into a community that can support up to 39 people in rebuilding their lives, with six second-hand shops in St Albans, Barnet, Hemel Hempstead, Hertford, Harpenden, and Tring. The charity is also well known for its monthly solidarity trips to Calais to deliver essential items to homeless migrants, which was an initiative started by Tony, who has made over 25 visits to Calais since the project began.
The soon to be retired CEO credits the local community for their continued support during nearly a decade of change and expansion: “Now on average, we have five van crews out a day visiting over 7,000 homes a year to collect items from a very generous public to be sold in our charity shops. The shops are vital in supporting the work that Emmaus Hertfordshire does, and without the kindness of the local community, the charity wouldn’t be in the fortunate position that it is today.
“During the past eight years at Emmaus, the community has supported over 200 people. To be able to be part of something that can, and did, help change so many these people’s lives is why I’ve been passionate for Emmaus to succeed. With that in mind, I would like to thank anyone who has supported us over the years either financially or by donating their items, their time, or making a purchase in one of our shops – their generosity has also helped to create a charity that can change lives.”
Tony Ferrier, Chief Executive at Emmaus Hertfordshire, will step down on Friday 30 November, with John Chesters stepping into the role next month: “I am looking forward to seeing Emmaus Hertfordshire succeed and grow and I wish the very best of luck to the new Chief Executive, to the amazing staff team, the trustees, volunteers and, of course, all the companions.”
To find out more about Emmaus Hertfordshire, or to get involved, please visit www.emmaus.org.uk/hertfordshire.