MPs Debbie Abrahams and Jonathan Reynolds visit Emmaus Mossley

Two Greater Manchester MPs have shown their support for homelessness charity Emmaus Mossley as they work to overcome the challenges presented by the government’s welfare reforms.

On Friday 27 October, Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, and Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, had a tour of the Emmaus Mossley social enterprise, meeting with beneficiaries and staff to discuss homelessness and welfare reform.

Emmaus companion, Kris Wookey, took the MPs on a tour of the community and explained how Emmaus had helped him when he was homeless: “Emmaus is my life – it has given me confidence and a purpose each day. It was a pleasure to show Debbie and Jonathan how big our operation is and the many ways in which we support the wider community and how they support us.”

Debbie and Jonathan were joined on the visit by Ward Councillors Jack Homer and Frank Travis, who were told that the community that supports 26 formerly homeless people could be set to lose almost a third of its income when Universal Credit is rolled out to include supported accommodation.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Saddleworth East and Lees, and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Along with many other MPs I’ve been dealing with emergency homelessness cases where constituents have contacted us because they have nowhere to go.

“I was very impressed with the work Emmaus does in helping support people who’ve experienced homelessness and it was heart-warming to meet some of the people who’ve had the chance to re-build their lives.

“If, as a nation, we’re going to tackle the issue of homelessness the onus is on the Government to do more to address the root causes.

“Under the last Labour government, rough sleeping fell by 75% between 1997-2010 and statutory homelessness was reduced by nearly two-thirds.

“This Government should be building more affordable housing; acting on soaring private rental costs; re-thinking the crude cuts to housing benefit and addressing the impact of universal credit on the most vulnerable.”

Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, and Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Emmaus does incredible work which turns around the lives of volunteers and deeply enhances the whole Mossley community. If the roll out of universal credit threatens the future of this brilliant social enterprise that would be a disaster – this is exactly the sort of organisation the government should value and promote. It’s also a false economy, as Emmaus saves the tax payer money in a number of ways. I look forward to meeting the minister to discuss this and hope he will be receptive.”

Emmaus Mossley supports 26 formerly homeless people by providing them with a home and work in a community setting. The charity runs a social enterprise in Mossley, selling donated and upcycled furniture, household goods, clothes, bric-a-brac and vintage wares.

Frances Hirst, Chair of Emmaus Mossley, said: “We were delighted to welcome both Jonathan and Debbie to our community and extremely grateful that they took the time to discuss some important welfare reform issues that affect the people we support.

“We are immensely proud of the work we do to support ourselves through our social enterprise and what we are able to give back to society. There is no doubt that the proposed changes to welfare will have a major impact on the work we do, the vulnerable people we support and increase the pressure on already stretched public services.”

To find out more or support Emmaus Mossley head to www.emmaus.org.uk/mossley. If you would like to get involved or donate an item, please call 01457 838608 or visit the store at Longlands Mill, Queen Street, Mossley OL5 9AH.