Inspiration at National Assembly 2012
Four trustees of Emmaus Gateshead, together with our "follow me ... " shop staff, enjoyed last weekend at Swanwick in Derbyshire. The Emmaus National Assembly on July 27th to 29th was two days (Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon) of immersion in the Emmaus world, focusing particularly on the people and the organisation.
The former included opportunities to meet more than 200 wonderful Companions, staff members and trustees from around the UK, both informally and in workshop settings, as well as some very moving and energising personal accounts of transformed lives as part of the formal presentations. In the evening there was a welcome opportunity to relax with recreational activities, such as a quiz and karaoke, that brought some interesting talents to light.
The latter included a presentation from the Chief Executive, Arvinda Gohil, on the Strategic Plan, and rallying calls from other National Board members, all highlighting the drivers and proposed solutions towards increasing the robustness of Emmaus as an organisation in an increasingly competitive and changing world, including the setting up of Emmaus Enterprises. Kate Welch provided some inspirational examples of how this can be done through social enterprise.
Workshops on Saturday and a session on Emmaus International on Sunday further fleshed out both sides of this coin. The experience of one Companion delegate on the Access to Water project in Benin sat well as an illustration of Emmaus' unique formula, spelled out by other speakers: growing a network of locally empowered groups able to tackle homelessness and other issues of exclusion on a sustainable basis, and to offer practical solidarity within and beyond the organisation, whilst robustly defending its ethical standpoint.
Emmaus UK's President Terry Waite then summed up, eloquently distilling the spirit of the event and of Emmaus in prose and poetry that reflected on themes of deprivation and isolation, and on how perspective and growth can come from some of life's darker moments.