Formerly homeless Bedford man to run upcycling workshop for town’s rough sleepers

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Christian, a Bedford man who was homeless for six months has been helped by local charity, Emmaus Village Carlton, gave him a place to live and the support he needed to change his life for the better. Ten months on, Christian is now using his creative talents to “upcycle” unwanted furniture. Items donated for sale in the Emmaus shop are repaired and painted, raising vital funds for the charity.

On Monday 25th September as part of national Recycle Week (25th September – 1st October 2017), Christian will be joining staff from the charity to lead a special workshop for service users at The SMART Prebend Centre in Bedford – offering rough sleepers the chance to learn upcycling skills.

Emmaus Village Carlton supports 42 formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to regain lost self-esteem to help rebuild their lives. Funds are raised through their Home Store charity shop and bistro in Carlton, with local people donating unwanted items for resale.

During his time with Emmaus, Christian has developed his talents and is not only using chalk paints to experiment with adding colour to wooden items, but also builds his own creations by putting together parts from furniture that is not able to be resold.

Speaking about his work, Christian said: “It means a lot to me that I’m able to use my artistic talents to help Emmaus Village Carlton, as they’ve done so much to support me. I love finding pieces of donated furniture and transforming them to be sold in our shop. I have a workshop area and as people donate items, I keep an eye out for things that might otherwise not sell, or sell for very little, and then I work out how to transform them into something so much better.

“For the Upcycling Workshop, we’ll be showing people how to transform a wooden dining chair using chalk paints. The finished pieces will then be donated to the centre so they can use or sell them to raise funds.”

The SMART Prebend Centre, located on Prebend Street in Bedford, provides facilities and services for the homeless including one-to-one support, advocacy, food, showers, clothes, access to phones and postal services.

Emmaus Village Carlton’s Re-use and Recycling Manager Tom Blight will be assisting with the workshop: “Emmaus is all about helping those who are most vulnerable in society. We like to be able to partner with other local organisations who are also working towards this goal. We’re really looking forward to sharing our upcycling skills in this special workshop, giving people a chance to learn a new skill and enjoy a new experience.”

Lisa Harrison from The SMART Prebend Centre said: “This is an amazing opportunity for our service users to learn new skills. It’s important that we provide diverse and interesting activities at the centre and we are delighted that Emmaus are helping us to achieve this. We are all very excited to get involved!”

Next month, Emmaus Village Carlton will also be offering an Upcycling Workshop for members of the public, to be held at their Home Store on Monday 16th October. Participants will learn to upcycle an item of furniture and will be able to take home their completed creation. Tickets are £5 and all funds raised will support Emmaus Village Carlton’s work. To find out more about booking places on this public workshop please visit

To find out more about The Prebend Homeless Day Centre visit attend the Open Day on 18th October.



1 Photograph attached:

Tom Blight and Christian – upcycling at Emmaus Village Carlton.


For media enquiries please contact Anna Eddleston at Emmaus on or 07786 278182.


Notes to Editors


  • Emmaus Village Carlton supports 42 formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to regain lost self-esteem to help rebuild their lives.
  • Emmaus Village Carlton sells furniture, clothing, up-cycled goods, vintage items and haberdashery in their Home Store. Bric-a-bric, books and a range of pastries, drinks, cake and hot meals are available in the popular Em’s Bistro.
  • Social enterprise is central to the Emmaus model as it provides meaningful work for companions but also generates funding to maintain communities. Companions living in Emmaus communities are expected to sign off all benefits, with the exception of housing benefit, which is used to help to support the community. The rest of the funding that is needed is generated through social enterprise and fundraising.
  • Emmaus communities deliver a significant return on investment. Research shows that for every £1 invested in a community, there is an £11 return, with savings to the benefits bill, health services and a reduction in crime reoffending.
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