How might building improvements support a homeless shelter become self-sustainable?

Emmaus St Albans is a charity which provides up to 33 homeless people with a safe home environment and the opportunity for employment. We worked with the residents to evaluate opportunities for expansion. Through a needs assessment and a series of design workshops we created a vision for extended retail space, which was built in 2017.

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St Albans, UK

St Albans, UK


We evaluated the project at the end of 2018, nearly 18 months after the building opened in its new form. Read more >>


It has made a lot of difference to how much income we bring in, because we’ve got more space to sell things, more room to get things done, so rather than having a lot of sold stuff on the shop floor, it’s out of the way so we can put fresh stock in”.

The expanded retail space has resulted in:

  • Increased safety in the management of stock coming into and out of the shop - greater ease of working

  • More opportunities for companions to work and grow

  • Fewer mistakes, particularly around merchandising - greater confidence working on the shop floor

  • Reduced friction between companions and customers

  • A greater sense of place and belonging in the building

  • More professional layout of goods