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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

A public health approach to tackling homelessness


“Our ambition with this strategy is to lift the crisis from being siloed as a housing problem to it being understood across all sectors"

Cyrenians has launched its new three-year strategy (launch team pictured above), committing to a public health approach in its mission to tackle the causes and consequences of homelessness.

The Strategic Plan 2024-2027 was launched at a breakfast event at the University of Edinburgh, where Cyrenians is a teaching partner and advisory group member in the Centre for Homelessness and Inclusion Health.

Presenting to an audience of stakeholders from across the public and private sectors, Ewan Aitken, CEO of Cyrenians, said: “Our ambition with this strategy is to lift the housing crisis from being siloed as a housing problem to it being understood across all sectors as a public health issue.”

In developing its new strategic plan, Cyrenians has reviewed its mission statement to more clearly define the areas in which it works: learning from lived experience; delivering targeted services which focus on prevention, early intervention and support into a home; and influencing changes in legislation and policy.

Ewan Aitken was joined at the launch by Karyn McCluskey, chief executive of Community Justice Scotland, who spoke about her experience of leading crime reduction in Scotland by treating violence as a public health issue.

In the same way that she was able to support greater understanding and stronger collaboration, Cyrenians’ new strategy sets out to draw knowledge from all sectors – social services, health, education, justice, policy and the private sector – and commits to people finding solutions to homelessness together.

Taking a public health approach, the new strategy moves from addressing the impact of a lack of accommodation to addressing the underlying reasons why people have become homeless in the first place, recognising that the adverse outcomes homeless people experience are largely determined by the systems and social context around them rather than as a result of their individual choices and behaviour within their own control.

Cyrenians Strategic Plan 2024-2027 is accompanied by an annual action plan that will track and measure outcomes against four key priorities:

  • preventing homelessness taking a public health approach,
  • responding to evidence-based need with services the charity is best placed to provide,
  • delivering whole person, whole family and whole community interventions
  • and being an organisation which nurtures its people and is financially and environmentally sustainable

The plan is informed by experience drawn from the pandemic, the Ending Homelessness Together Plan produced by Scottish Government and COSLA, work as part of the Task & Finish Group: Prevention, work as part of the Promise and accumulated learning from fifty plus years of tackling the causes and consequences of homelessness.

To read the plan, visit here:



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