Emmaus Hertfordshire

Tackling homelessness through income generation and skills development

Emmaus Hertfordshire is a charity that provides a home for as long as it’s needed and meaningful work for people who have experienced homelessness. The social enterprise first began trading in 1991 with its first shop selling second-hand furniture in St Albans. Since then the business has grown steadily, with a turnover of £1 million in 2018.

But for several years high street retail has struggled, with lower footfall, high rent and shifting consumer behaviour affecting sales. So in 2019 the charity launched its Emmaus Hertfordshire eBay store - Community Hero Award Winner at the eBay for Business Awards 2020.

Homelessness is a problem that’s unlikely to disappear from our town centres in the immediate future, but Emmaus Hertfordshire has a unique way of tackling it. They provide a stable living environment while also providing meaningful work to help residents gain new experience, learn new skills, and rebuild their self-esteem.

This helps people who have found themselves in difficult situations to build their confidence, while the skills they learn are essential in helping them move back into employment - and ultimately, to a brighter, more fulfilling future.

With the impact of the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown and its ongoing effect on retail footfall, the eBay store has played a vital role in increasing the charity’s income. It’s also helped them get maximum value from products donated by their large network of supporters, by selling items at a realistic market value and to a much wider audience.

But the online store also plays a key role in training residents and building their digital skills. For this, eBay’s online training has been invaluable, giving residents a solid start to their learning and kickstarting a new internal training programme in ecommerce.

With the number of online visitors continuing to grow, they’ve quickly outgrown their current eBay office.
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But the charity has big plans to move forward as it aims to increase training and turnover. Next on the list is a bigger eBay storage and processing office, while an improved photo studio, better storage and additional equipment like cameras are all in the pipeline to help them future-proof their online operations, and protect the charity and residents alike.


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