Volunteers working at a city centre resale shop to help the homeless have told of a tirade of abuse aimed at them.Advertisement
Emmaus Preston – which has opened in the former HMV shop in Fishergate – was targeted on Tuesday (25 July).
The charity, which has companions who have struggled to find work in the past or experienced homelessness, had converted the former store into a second-hand treasure trove – the second in the city.
On Tuesday morning one of the charity’s female companions was ‘brought to tears’ as a man entered the shop.
He subjected her to abuse claiming the charity was ‘taking money from the government’ and not helping those on the street begging in doorways.
Read more: How begging banning orders are working in Preston
After shouting accusations the man was told to leave by a number of companions who were working in the shop – and a customer stepped in to ask the man to leave.
The charity has felt compelled to post on its Facebook page about the incident.
They stated: “He wanted to know why we were making “millions” in our shops and taking loads of money off the Government when there was a man across the road begging in a doorway. He said we would be better shutting this shop and putting beds in it. His use of language and derogatory comments brought one of our female Companions to tears, in particular comments about her when she tried to explain she had been homeless and what Emmaus did.
“The man in the doorway had been offered help by us on a number of occasions but for whatever reason he doesn’t want our help. We provide accommodation.
“Our Companions sign off benefits, are drug and alcohol free and volunteer daily so it isn’t for everyone – you really need to commit and want to change.
Read more: Exploring inside the UK’s largest charity shop in Preston
“The people in our shops (our Companions) are formerly homeless!
“They are changing their lives and every penny (which certainly isn’t millions!) goes to supporting them in various ways including paying for food, clothes, toiletries, support with addictions, training, help into jobs, help getting back in touch with family, help with mental health issues and supporting them into their own accommodation.
“We run shops as our Companions do not claim Job Seekers / Unemployment Benefit (so we save Government money) and it gives people a reason to get up, learn new skills, meet new people and hopefully help some people too.
“The Companion upset today had not been off the streets long and was doing really well – we never expected her to receive abuse in one of OUR shops in the centre of Preston.”
Preston Police were not called about the incident and the charity is not understood to be taking any further action.