A UN climate champion has visited a homelessness charity to find out how its recycling operations are benefitting the formerly homeless people who live and work there.

Chilean delegate Gonzalo Munoz and the UK’s Nigel Topping toured Emmaus Glasgow’s charity shop and community building on Ellesmere Street in Hamiltonhill on Sunday. 

The building offers a home, support and the chance to learn green skills, for as long as is needed, to people with experience of homelessness. 

Here they learn how to repair and upcycle donations that might otherwise go to landfill, sorting items, testing products and stripping goods for valuable metal - processing thousands of tonnes of donations each year.

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Emmaus Glasgow Director Richard Allwood said: “We wanted to show the UN Climate Champions no matter who you are and what your past, with the right training, support and resilience, we can all make a contribution towards COP26’s aim to achieve carbon net zero.

“Emmaus Glasgow is a place where people as well as donations get a second chance. By teaching charity beneficiaries new skills, we’re aiming to help them take their next steps towards a better life.”

The charity’s partnership with Boomerang was funded by a recent Adapt and Thrive cash grant, which is part of the Scottish Government’s third sector response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The grant has also paid for in store improvements and new staff roles at Emmaus Glasgow.

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Climate Champion Gonzalo Munoz, who leads a company running recycling banks across South America, said: “People living and working at Emmaus are the champions, they are the heroes, the Emmaus community is doing the job on the ground that is avoiding more climate and environmental damage, and, at the same time, teaching people that products need to be maintained in the system as long as they can.

“With me having been related to the circular economy for more than a decade and working in recycling, what Emmaus does in terms of promoting repair and promoting reuse, that’s the most important environmental role you can play as a citizen. Emmaus is doing an amazing job, and I really hope that everyone in the UK and in the world can follow its lead.”

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A portion of Emmaus Glasgow’s stock goes to community organisations and people in need, part of which is distributed at the charity’s ‘soup kitchen’ outreach service that takes place on Cadogan Street in Glasgow city centre every Wednesday from 8:30pm to 10pm.

Next week, Emmaus residents will build on their skills with additional training from Glasgow community woodworking project Boomerang. 

Members of the community will learn how to restore old furniture and create new products out of reclaimed timber, such as coffee tables and decorative Christmas trees, which will all go on sale at Emmaus Glasgow charity shops on Ellesmere Street in Hamiltonhill and Dumbarton Road in Partick.