Emmaus International

-> What is Emmaus International?

It’s a non-religious movement that was set up in 1971 by a French priest, Abbé Pierre, to combat poverty and social exclusion. Solidarity is an essential part of the Emmaus ethos. This means working to help people less fortunate than yourself. What makes Emmaus original is that it’s a movement that’s all about bringing people together – people who have experienced, or who are experiencing social exclusion and people from more privileged backgrounds – who together, come up with alternatives to poverty.

-> What is Emmaus International’s purpose?

All around the world, we’re running income-generating activities with people experiencing social exclusion, to give them back their access to their fundamental rights. Emmaus International challenges decision-makers and policy, using its experiences as an example to show how it is possible, and necessary, to implement alternatives to injustice.
The universal manifesto, the Emmaus movement’s founding text, was adopted in 1969 and sets out our main ethos: “Serve first those who suffer most” and “raise awareness and share struggles until the cause of each ill is eliminated”.

-> What are Emmaus International’s missions?

There are three:
-    Take action at the local-level and challenge public powers
-    Organise solidarity between the member organisations and with other activists
-    Keep the memory of Abbé Pierre alive, as Emmaus International is Abbé Pierre's sole legatee

-> Who are Emmaus International’s members?

They’re local-level organisations, communities, “friends of Emmaus” grouped into voluntary organisations and social enterprises implementing work integration activities with a social purpose.
Our movement is made up of a wide range of activists working all around the world.
To get an idea of their diversity, go to the Emmaus around the world section, which describes all their different activities.

-> What is an Emmaus community?

Communities are places where people live, work and put solidarity into action. People living at Emmaus communities have often experienced social exclusion and are known as companions. There are also community leaders and volunteers, also sometimes known as “friends”. They make up the three essential components of Emmaus communities. Their activities mainly centre around collecting and recycling second-hand or discarded items that consumer society throws away, often unnecessarily. Most of their income comes from selling recycled goods.

-> What is a friends' committee?

They’re groups of volunteers in France who offer support to communities and other members of Emmaus. Sometimes they employ people on subsidised employment contracts. Their activities are the same as those of a community (collecting donated goods, reconditioning and selling them.)

-> How does Emmaus International challenge policy?

At Emmaus, local-level initiatives back up the movement’s policies.
To tackle local-level problems, the movement’s members come up with alternative solutions. At their world assemblies, which meet every four years, they decide which issues they are going to tackle together as priorities. They then challenge decision-makers about these issues in order to make structural changes that are capable of overcoming the causes of poverty.

-> What are the movement’s priority areas?

Since 2012, Emmaus International champions its member organisations’ collective commitment to six priority areas:
-    right to water,
-    health,
-    education,
-    ethical finance,
-    fighting human trafficking,
-    international migration.

-> What does solidarity mean at Emmaus International?

Solidarity is put into practice at the movement’s different levels:
- At local level, through solidarity projects run by Emmaus organisations with their wider communities
- Between member organisations: second-hand goods are shipped by container to Africa and Latin America. The member organisations use the goods themselves or sell them in their second-hand shops, which brings in small amounts of revenue. Emmaus organisations also often pool financial support or skills.
- At international level, the 350 member organisations pool the proceeds of one day’s sale. These pooled resources are then redistributed and used for projects run by organisations in the movement requiring support. Some of the resources are used for emergencies, such as accidents, or if a member organisation is hit by a natural disaster.
Take a look at the sheer variety of projects in the section on Solidarity.

-> What does being Abbé Pierre’s “sole legatee” mean?

Emmaus International is responsible for promoting Abbé Pierre’s ideas and action, and for protecting and keeping his memory alive. For that reason, Emmaus International owns the copyright to Abbé Pierre’s books, and is responsible for the use and protection of his name.
An inventory of the archives has been underway since 2001. The movement puts the collections to good use to ensure Abbé Pierre is remembered.

-> How can I get involved or support Emmaus International?

There are many ways you can get involved: make a material or financial donation, join our team as a volunteer or intern or visit one of our shops. You can also support our campaigns for change, for a fairer world.