TERRY WAITE accused some charitable organisations of acting “way beyond what is responsible” during his visit to Emmaus Mossley this month.
But he believes his vision of trying to open an Emmaus community in every major UK city is possible because of the trust in the homelessness charity from local authorities and central Government.
Mr Waite, President of Emmaus UK, marked World Homeless Day by opening two new bedrooms for Emmaus companions at the Queen Street site.
Mossley MP Jonathan Reynolds, Mayor of Mossley Greg Brett, consort Irene Raddings and Saddleworth based actor John Henshaw – an Emmaus patron – were also invited to the opening that boosts the number of rooms at the former Longlands Mill to 26.
“We are taking people into Emmaus who probably wouldn’t settle if you put them into an apartment or home,” said Mr Waite, a one-time special envoy to former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, and celebrating 25 years since his release as a terrorist hostage in Beirut.
“We are dealing with specialised group in society who, if they weren’t here, would almost certainly be on the streets, doing themselves no good and doing no good for the local community.
“But the need to help is still enormous and is going to grow. If there are higher interest rates that would throw families out of homes and into the care of the local community.
“It costs a couple of million pounds to start an Emmaus community like this one so it is a lot of money to raise.
“But nowadays we (Emmaus) have a better public profile than we had years ago because we are known to do a good job.
“We don’t pay high salaries and myself and Richard (Darlington, President of Emmaus Mossley) don’t get a bean.
“Sometimes today the charitable sector has got out of hand when they are paying £190,000 for a chief executive. That is way beyond what is responsible.”
Emmaus Mossley has supported more than 400 former homeless men and women during its 20 years in existence.
Mr Waite admits the two rooms, both with spectacular Pennine views, maybe a drop in the ocean compared to the greater problem.
“But it means two more people will have an opportunity of somewhere to live and to be established and to get back into life,” he added.
“What really matters is the individual who comes here has the opportunity to grow into the person they want to be and to live as full a life as possible and as a responsible member of society.
“Homeless people should never be stereotyped negatively. Sometimes they make mistakes, sometimes they have got into difficulties.
“One of the great things about Emmaus is it recognises that human beings have their dignity no matter what position in life they are in and should be treated as such.
“I said when I first came President of Emmaus that it was my hope we would have a community established in every major city of the UK before I die. We have got a good way to go but it’s a great excuse for living longer.”