The founder and vice-president of the homelessness charity Emmaus UK has been awarded the prestigious Albert Medal from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
Selwyn Image was given the award, which has been running since 1864, for setting up the UK branch of the international movement that gives homeless people a place to live and work.
The Albert Medal recognises innovation in the fields of creativity, commerce and social improvement. Recipients of the annual award include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, the physicist Professor Stephen Hawking and Zarine Kharas, chief executive of the online fundraising platform JustGiving, who received it in 2009.
Emmaus originated in France. Image volunteered for the charity in Paris as a student and 30 years later, in 1990, he decided to bring the same model to the UK after being shocked by the number of people living on the streets of Cambridge.
"Winning this prize emphasises the RSA’s recognition of the positive things Emmaus can do about the growing national issue of homelessness," said Image. "The most important benefit from winning such a prestigious award is that it enables us to grow our social enterprise throughout the UK, using the good name of the RSA to highlight our work"
Emmaus has since grown to 24 communities and more emerging groups across England, Wales and Scotland, which offer home and work to 590 formerly homeless people.