Pat Etkins is an Emmaus Employee who was homeless before she found a new life working for Emmaus. Pat initially worked in the Emmaus Salford shops, organising donations and cooking meals in the community kitchen.
The idea of Lucie’s Pantry Salford stemmed off the amount of homeless or low-income families that were coming into Emmaus charity in Salford in the need of serious help, with Pat being one of them.
Launching Lucie’s Pantry, Pat initially worked three days a week, helping stock the pantry and serve its customers, also helping Pat earn some money and get off the streets.
Previously being homeless herself, Pat explains how Lucie’s Pantry has really changed her life, “I got the job in Lucie’s Pantry, which then got me off the streets, so now I don’t live here anymore I live in my own flat.
“I owe a lot to Emmaus for the help they’ve given me, Emmaus will always be in my heart.”
Pat has become passionate about helping people get off the streets, she says she not only loves helping keep them fed, but also helping them find work and a home so they can move onto the next, and hopefully happier, chapter in their life.
The shop helps by working through a membership scheme, allowing the members to have ten items for £2.50, which can be worth up to £15 every day. The pantry stocks essential household items for low income or homeless people to help make each day a little bit easier.
Starting with 20 members, Lucie’s Pantry Salford now has 150 members who come in the shop regularly, which Pat says illustrates just how high the demand for food banks in Salford is.
With new refurbishments coming soon, Pat is hopeful that she will now be able to help other people get their lives back on track in the same way Lucie’s Pantry helped her.
Pat explained, ““This is my pride and joy, its everything to me, I’ve known some of my customers for two years now and I know everything about them. I’m not just here to give food out to them, it’s a friendly place here as well.”
Striving to make the shop a social supermarket, Pat wants to create a community within the shop and its customers. She says many of the customers now come in just for a chat and to see a friendly face, as a lot of them are extremely lonely.
Pat also has a lot of customers that struggle with depression and anxiety, she says she is here even if they just want to pop in for a chat.
Helping people find jobs and change their live is also a passion of Pat’s she said, “A lot of mine have left now because I’ve got them doing voluntary work somewhere else or part-time and full-time jobs.”
With Christmas around the corner, Pat also has help from the CAB, helping her get nappies and school uniforms in stock. They’ve even put her in touch with Wood Street Mission, to ensure the children in her community get Christmas presents this Christmas as well. Pat strongly feels that the pantry is “not just for food” as it’s a community as well.
Can you help us fill Christmas hampers for members of Lucie's Pantry, our Salford social supermarket?
We're appealing for donations of non-perishable food, tins, sugar, etc and festive treats. Please drop items off at any of our 3 Emmaus Salford shops https://t.co/ae4c1JUYwh pic.twitter.com/7EGlY1fIyf
— Emmaus Salford (@Emmaus_Salford) November 13, 2019
Recycling is the next step, Pat is going to provide a bottle for just one pound filled with what the customer needs, and then they can bring the bottle back and get it filled up for free. Helping the environment is also a big part of Pat’s work.
Recipe cards are also going to be made, to provide more support and help people and families start eating the right foods instead of just using the microwavable meals
Pat says her “Door is always open” and the support she gives people will never stop.