A charity working to tackle homelessness has launched its first department store this week in Rochdale after finding a home with the Co-op.
Emmaus – which was established over 25 years ago – has been offered the 50,000 sq. ft. space rent free by the Co-op in a move designed to give a new lease of life to an unused building, while enabling the charity to further its work to overcome homelessness and social exclusion.
The new department store was officially opened this week at the Rochdale Exchange Shopping Centre by actor and Emmaus ambassador, John Henshaw.
The store is expected to equip around 60 vulnerable people in the first year with the skills, training and qualifications needed to integrate back into society.The department store, which was originally opened in the 1950’s by Rochdale icon Gracie Fields, will support the charity’s work to deliver wider social, environmental and economic benefits in the community. Spread across three levels, it offers a wide range of new and pre-owned items including furniture, home ware, electrical appliances, clothing and vintage goods.
Stuart Hookins, Co-op’s Director of Portfolio and Development, said:
“Connecting communities and bringing people together is at the heart of the Co-op, we are committed to supporting the creation of stronger communities. This move not only breathes new life into an unused space but supports the charity’s work to transform the lives of vulnerable people in our communities.”
Stephen Buchanan, Director of Emmaus Rochdale, said:
“This is very exciting for all involved as this is our largest development to-date and could not have been achieved without working together with The Co-op, 50 Square and Reuse Network. The Emmaus Department Store will provide a huge boost for our charity, offering meaningful work and training opportunities whilst generating an income to maintain our wider support. “It is apt that Rochdale is the birthplace of co-operation. We share so many values with the Co-op and by working together we have created an incredible opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people who have experienced homelessness.”
Actor John Henshaw, said: “In the present climate Emmaus is doing a fantastic job and I was delighted to open their latest outlet in Rochdale. May they continue raising funds, rehabilitating and offering a safe haven to those of us who have just gotten a little lost in life. God bless ’em.”