Become a companion

Being a companion is a unique and rewarding experience for someone recovering from homelessness.

Companions are first and foremost part of a community and part of an active social enterprise that helps fund the community. Nobody needs experience and nobody has to have any qualifications except for good will. The support team guides companions toward areas they can effectively work in, providing companions with training and in-work support.

Currently, companions have the option to work in one of the three charity shops selling furniture and goods, supporting the eBay charity shop, helping sort bric-a brac, clothes and goods, working on the vans and in the warehouse to deliver and collect goods, and taking part in house clearances. Other roles include cleaning and cooking.

Each companion will work with the support team to identify any services they may require for physical and mental health, dependencies, immigration status, ID, family issues and much more.

When a companion has gained experience in their role and begun to recover from the trauma of homelessness, the support team will help them progress within Emmaus and then to move-on, identifying and referring them to external training or work experience so that they can gain sustainable employment. For some companions, moving on into the competetive and expensive private rental market may seem daunting. For that reason, Emmaus Bristol does not have a time limit on a companion’s stay. We also recognise that while some will be keen to head back to independent living quickly, others may need more time. Emmaus is a home for as long as it’s needed, as long as you can follow the simple rules in the licence agreement.

Each companion signs a license agreement which sets out realistic and manageable expectations to ensure that they and their peers have a happy stay in the accommodation and when working in the social enterprises. Those that do not adhere to the license agreement face a warning system that can lead to ending their license agreement, but this does not happen too often! Over the last three years 93% of companions successfuly managed their licence agreements.

Companions sign off most benefits. The exceptions are housing benefit if they are entitled to it, though we also have companions with no recourse to public funds, and non means-tested benefits like PIP. Instead of benefits Emmaus Bristol pays a living allowance plus travel and holiday money, and savings to each companion.

This is what Emmaus Bristol provides, and what is expected of a companion.

Emmaus Bristol will provide

  • Safe and stable accommodation, which is well maintained for as long as you need it.
  • Food, clothing, bedding, towels and essential toiletries.
  • A regular allowance, help to set-up a bank account and opportunities to save for the future. Currently £43 allowance plus £10 into a savings account per week.
  • Support to register with a GP and dentist, and to access other health and wellbeing agencies / services you may need.
  • Work in a social enterprise, linked to the community. Here, you will work with others, to contribute to the success and sustainability of the community.
  • Training appropriate to your work, and a record of and recognition of your achievements.
  • Help to access other training for your personal development and learning and an environment that is supportive and encouraging.
  • Personalised support, in line with your needs, issues, goals and aspirations.
  • The opportunity to be part of a community, that works, lives and socialises together in a positive and supportive environment for the good of all.
  • Encouragement to pursue your own hobbies and interests, and help to achieve your personal aspirations and goals.
  • The chance to take part in acts of solidarity. This means working to help someone less fortunate than yourself and is a core part of our ethos.
  • Help to access mainstream housing and employment, supporting as much as possible, when or if you want to move on.

The companion will:

  • Respect the accommodation, keeping it clean, tidy and looked after.
  • Consider others, and not take more than my fair share of resources.
  • Sign off all benefits, with the exception of housing benefit, and not borrow money from other companions.
  • Take responsibility for making and keeping my medical appointments and be open and honest with staff about my health and wellbeing.
  • Contribute to the social enterprise, working 5 days a week to the best of my ability, and be a willing and supportive member of the team.
  • Take part in required training, enabling me to perform my job safely and to the required standards.
  • Take ownership of my own personal development and learning, and explore options available to me.
  • Engage with the support offered, taking responsibility and action to meet my own needs and aspirations.
  • Participate in the daily upkeep of the community, behaving in a considerate way to staff, companions and visitors, giving support, encouragement and respect to others, and abiding by the rules of the community.
  • Invest in myself – taking time to pursue my own hobbies and interests and work towards my own goals and aspirations.
  • Take part in solidarity, and actively help others, demonstrating empathy, compassion and charity to those in need.
  • Work with staff, to prepare myself for living and working outside of the community, if this is my goal. Meet regularly with your support worker to set out and work towards your own objectives and take part in the Outcomes Star.

For those that wish to apply to become a companion, they can self-refer or be referred by a professional. All they have to do is fill in the online application form.

The support team will get back to you as soon as they can and let you know if they have any vacancies. They will chat to you, complete a risk assessment with you and if Emmaus seems to be a fit, they will invite you to a trial day. Anyone who moves in will need to agree to come off all welfare benefits other than housing benefit.

If you are interested in joining other Emmaus Communities, not only Bristol, please apply to Emmaus UK so your referral can be shared to all communities with vacancies. 

If you are in Bristol and need emergency accommodation please contact the council. 

Diversity is hugely important to Emmaus locally and globally. We actively encourage people from all ethnicities, backgrounds and genders to apply. We accept people without recourse to public funds. However, due to the buildings we currently have, we are unable to cater for those in wheelchairs. We hope that in the future we can.