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‘They have a lack of hope in their eyes’ – charity chief executive on working with Nottingham’s homeless

A charity chief executive has revealed one of the most heartbreaking aspects of his job is working with homeless people who have a “lack of hope in their eyes”.

Denis Tully started working at Emmanuel House, a homelessness charity based in Goose Gate, six years ago after he was made redundant while managing a Sure Start children‘s support centre in Gedling.

After 16 months, he progressed from volunteer coordinator to the chief executive of the charity which now employs 40 staff and has around 200 volunteers.

Mr Tully said the charity has had to constantly adapt to increasing numbers of people on the streets, drug and alcohol use and complex mental and physical health ne.

Denis Tully, CEO of Emmanuel House and rough sleepers in the doorway of the Ted Baker store

“When people present as homeless they have a lack of hope in their eyes,” he told Nottinghamshire Live.

“That is really significant because people do really know that there is not a great plethora of help. You have to reach a high threshold to go from being homeless one day to being housed the next.

“But there is an awful lot of work going on in the city. One of the things Emmanuel House promotes is the idea of community.”

In November this year, an average of 30 people were on the streets every night – and while this decreased from the year before, there are a greater number of women becoming homeless.

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Refugees and migrants, who have no access to public funds, benefits or housing, have also been making up around half of everyone attending the night shelter.

Mr Tully said the services the charity offers have expanded to women‘s groups, mental health support and a night shelter which now spans the entire year.

He said: “There seems to be more women on the streets and drugs like spice and mamba have been introduced which weren’t around seven or eight years ago.

“We have broadened out and we have a mental health team who do outreach, we have someone who helps people with employment.

“Migrants do not have access to benefits unless they can demonstrate that they have worked and paid tax.

“Numbers tend to be very low when seasonal work is available, but when that is not there are more. The migrant community is very transient but we will provide information that is accurate to a person’s circumstances.

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“We will always give them the opportunity of reconnection, and we will pass them onto Framework, but some migrants have all their friends here and no family where they come from.

Emmanuel House is very much a hub [for help and support].”

The charity, which was founded in 1976, welcomes around 2,000 people every month.

Women can get support in the women‘s group Womanuel, beneficiaries can help out in the allotment in St Ann’s and each day around 90 meals – or almost 13,000 every year – are served for as little as £1.50, to teach those being helped how to be “self sufficient.”

It also offers a free night shelter, which has been full every night since its inception in April and has helped many people into permanent accommodation, victim care and drug and alcohol support.

Mr Tully, who moved to Nottingham from Dublin in 1978 – a city in which he says has a more prominent homelessness problem –  has now been awarded for his efforts to help the city’s homeless and vulnerable adults.

The Padraic Sweeney Fund award, a fund to help local causes, was given at the Nottingham Irish Golf Society presentation dinner at Ruddington Grange gold club.

A cheque of £1,000 was awarded to Emmanuel House to continue its support.

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