Cyrenians marks half a century with £500,000 fundraising call

Homelessness prevention charity Cyrenians is seeking £500,000 from businesses to support its work in Edinburgh as it marks its 50th anniversary year of helping rough sleepers.

The campaign is being supported by Essential Edinburgh, the Business Improvement District (BID) for Edinburgh City Centre, and the over 550 businesses who make up its membership.

Formed in 1968 to serve those on the edge by working with the homeless and vulnerable to transform their lives, last year Cyrenians worked with almost 4,000 people who were homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.

The campaign, ‘Nobody Chooses this’ will explain through real stories from the charity’s history since its formation the reasons why homelessness happens and how finding solutions can take time to achieve.

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. The team’s approach, like all of Cyrenians work, is underlined by a determination not to give up on people. There are no penalties, no yellow cards, no three-strike rule; only patience, respect, and compassion.

Commenting on the campaign, 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. For 50 years Cyrenians have journeyed with 1000’s 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. Our partnership with Essential Edinburgh, providing an innovative, assertive Outreach service is one example of how Cyrenians works; making a real difference to those living a tough reality on the streets of our Capital.”

Roddy Smith, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, 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. We are delighted to be in partnership with Cyrenians’ Homeless Navigator Project which was established to address the visible problem of rough sleeping in Edinburgh.

“We are delighted to support this campaign and to help fund this important work. I would encourage other businesses to get actively involved in this campaign and join us in helping Cyrenians raise half a million pounds as they mark their half century.”

At the campaign launch event, Standard Life Aberdeen announced a donation of £50,000 to kick-start the campaign and in recognition of the impact of Cyrenians work to stop homelessness and support people.

Sandy MacDonald, head of sustainability at Standard Life Aberdeen, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Cyrenians, who do fantastic, life-changing work in our community for people who are homeless or vulnerable. On their 50th Anniversary, our people wanted to show their appreciation for our friends at Cyrenians. Our contribution will help young and old people with complex needs to break down barriers to work, and support the innovative Housing First model for rough sleepers in Edinburgh.

“We’d be delighted if our donation becomes one of many from the business community, bringing us together to mark their 50th anniversary with a lasting and transformational legacy for the city.”

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