The Queen Consort revealed she is a thrifty shopper who has bagged a bargain in a charity shop when she visited a unique organisation helping the homeless.
Camilla toured an Emmaus Community in south London which has been supporting rough sleepers by providing them with a home, meaningful work and funded training for almost 15 years.
As she looked at donated furniture and home furnishings in the boutique shop of Emmaus SLC (Surrey, Lambeth, Croydon) she praised the organisation’s work, saying: “It’s an incredible charity, you don’t believe it until you see it.”
Camilla has been patron of Emmaus UK since 2006 and has toured many of its communities across the country which have been helping the homeless, known as “companions”, for decades.
Speaking to the charity’s head of business, Rachel Burton, she added: “I know, with all these shops, they never give me enough time to look around, all the furniture is so useful. I’ve picked up some nice pieces.”
The first Emmaus Community was founded in Paris in 1949 by Abbe Pierre, a Catholic priest, MP and former member of the French Resistance.
The winter of 1954 was a particularly harsh one and Abbe Pierre became incensed when he heard that a baby and a woman had frozen to death on the streets. He launched a press and radio appeal and the people of Paris responded with gifts and support and Emmaus became a major international charity.
During the visit, the Queen Consort heard about plans by Emmaus SLC to diversify its support, with the charity conducting research to better help female rough sleepers and see if women-only provision is a possible answer.
But it may also need to provide greater support to those homeless suffering mental health or drug dependency issues.
Jonathan Pallas, chairman of trustees at Emmaus SLC, said there are beds available in the accommodation it provides but added: “It’s not as if homelessness has been eliminated.
“What we’re finding, in order to live and function in the community you need to be willing and able to work, your support needs to be relatively low, and what we’re finding is there are plenty of people who need our support but they need a much more enhanced service offer and that’s how we need to adapt.”
In a brief speech to mark her visit, the Queen Consort said about the homeless charity: “Every time I come and visit one I always come away with the same impression that, you know, you have this wonderful feeling of community and people looking after one another – and that’s what Emmaus communities are all about.
“So I’d like to thank everybody who’s involved, for in making it all work and of course all of the companions – I’ve talked to so many and they always say the same thing, it’s obviously their confidence (that) gets boosted by coming here and they find a path into starting their life again.”
Camilla added: “I was very interested to hear about the women’s community, which I think is very important.”