Ex-hostage Terry Waite visits base for the homeless

A FORMER hostage came to St Leonards to visit a charity that helps the town’s homeless people.

Terry Waite, who spent nearly five years in captivity in Lebanon from 1987 to 1991, met with people from Emmaus in Whitworth Road.

The visit was also to mark 20 years since he was released.

Mr Waite chatted to residents and volunteers over lunch, and was presented with a seagull model from the Hastings and Bexhill Wood Recycling Project.

Nine formerly homeless people now live and work at the site, and the accommodation block will be expanded next spring to add space for another six.

Shortly after his release, Mr Waite became patron of Emmaus UK, which is celebrating 20 years since the opening of its first UK community in Cambridge, as well as the opening of the UK’s newest community, Hastings and Rother, which took in its first residents this summer.

Mr Waite said: “Amid the general feeling of depression in England at the moment, Emmaus is one of the good news stories.

“When anyone comes to Emmaus, they’re not coming to receive charity, they’re coming to be part of a community that’s part of the wider community.”

Emmaus is a secular organisation that aims to help people move on from homelessness by giving them a home and work in a supportive environment. Residents work collecting, restoring and re-selling donated furniture and household goods.

Several residents plan to volunteer at the Surviving Christmas charity over the festive season, and suitable clothing and bedding will be donated from the shop’s stock.