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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Charity marks 50th year with funding call to arms

This news post is almost 6 years old

Cyrenians is looking to raise £500,000 from the business community to boost support for the homeless in Edinburgh

A homeless charity has launched a drive to gain support from businesses as it marks a milestone anniversary.

Cyrenians was founded in 1968 to help those who are homeless or vulnerable in Scotland.

And to coincide with its 50th year, the charity is seeking £500,000 from the business community to support its work with those sleeping rough in Edinburgh.

Entitled Nobody Chooses This, the campaign is being supported by Essential Edinburgh, the Business Improvement District (BID) for Edinburgh City Centre, and the more than 550 businesses who make up its membership.

Through the use of real stories from the charity’s history, the campaign will examine the reasons why homelessness happens and how finding solutions can take time to achieve.

Cyrenians chief executive Ewan Aitken said: “For half a century, Cyrenians have been working with people across Scotland to tackle the root causes of homelessness. We have journeyed with thousands of people in tough realities, helping them transform their own lives for themselves, but there is still much to do.

“In truth we hope over the next 50 years we can do what it takes to create a Scotland where Cyrenians are no longer needed; where the main causes of homelessness such as poverty, addiction, violence, stigma, mental health challenges, no longer exist. We believe that homelessness needs to be addressed by a range of services, designed by the needs of those whom we support.”

Funded by Essential Edinburgh and Comic Relief, Cyrenians outreach team work on a one-to-one basis with rough sleepers on the streets, providing support through developing a relationship and by responding to the person’s priorities and supporting them to address these. Last year, the charity worked with almost 4000 people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Nick, who is one of Cyrenians peer navigators working in the centre of Edinburgh, said that building trust is key to helping those who find themselves on the streets.

He said: “I went to meet a man where he was sleeping near Princes Street, introduced myself and chatted.

“Over a few meetings Tom opened up and I came to understand that this young man had escaped from an extremely violent situation which he couldn’t return to, and hadn’t managed to find a way to access housing or support due to his illiteracy. Tom’s past experience of ineffective engagement with authorities had understandably made him ambivalent to any offer of support.

“After building trust and providing consistent contact, I supported Tom to find accommodation which was agreed ahead of benefit payments being available, based on respect and trust in Tom’s connection to Cyrenians.”

Roddy Smith, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said it is vital that the city supports those who have fallen on hard times.

He said: “Our role on behalf of the city centre businesses is to support the fantastic third sector organisations in the city who are doing an excellent job in supporting the homeless community.”

The campaign experienced an early boost wiith financial firm Standard Life Aberdeen announcing a donation of £50,000 to kick-start the drive.

A host of events are being planned to mark the charity’s landmark year, including a celebration in June and five chefs battling it out in a fundraising cook off.