„Perceptions”, Mark Greenaway’s first book brought me to Cyrenians when I opened my pre ordered copy of the book. Together with the arrival of the book I received a lunch invitation to celebrate Mark’s first book release. At the lunch, I met Ian Grimwade, Cyrenians’ Head of Business Development who arranged a visit with Rob Davidson, the Farm’s Enterprise Manager and Jakub Stojek, Senior Personal Advisor at Homeless Prevention Servise. Several days later I visited the farm.
„Cyrenians is an independent Scottish Charity (number SC011052) with an outstanding track record in pioneering creative solutions to the contemporary problems faced by people on the margins of society, such as: homelessness, hunger, poverty, unemployment, recovery from addiction and recidivism” *.
*Recent Press Release
Cyrenians history dates back to 1966 – when Father Anthony Ross and colleagues open Skippers Cafe – a night shelter for rough sleepers. In 1968 – Skippers closes and Edinburgh Cyrenian Trust is formed. The name Cyrenians comes from the biblical story of Simon the Cyrene, (the man who was compelled by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus), but Cyrenians was founded as and remains a secular organisation.
For 50 years, Cyrenians has served those on the edge, working with the homeless and vulnerable to transform their lives by beginning with their story, helping them believe that they can change their lives, and walking with them as they lead their own transformation
A huge part of what Cyrenians does is focused on food and this really peaked my interest as a food bloger, however they work is organised around four targeted areas of service:
Family and People
Home and Housing
Work and Skills
Community and Food
Community and Food
Community and Food is one of the servises, with areas and programs through Cyrenians teach people about the benefits of growing, cooking and eating good food together in their local communities.
Community and Food areas:
- At the Community Gardens they focus on welcoming people experiencing mental or physical health problems, disadvantage, isolation or poverty. The gardens offer people fantastic opportunities to grow food, socialise and become more active. The garden teams also run regular events, workshops and courses.
- The Good Food programme is a social enterprise that supports people through access to food, improves their health and wellbeing, and develops skills and confidence around cooking. One of the key elements is an amazing FareShare solution, national network redistributing surplus food from producers and suppliers (like supermarkets and bakeries) to redirect good quality food, that would otherwise be thrown away, to people who need it, such as residential homeless projects and community youth groups. Programme members can make significant savings on their food bills.
- The Cyrenians Farm is a social enterprise located just outside Edinburgh. It’s a working farm producing fruit, vegetables and eggs; it’s also home to a community of vulnerable young people, many with experience of homelessness.
Volunteering, Corporate away days
The Farm have a number of exciting opportunities for groups of staff to come out to the farm for corporate away days, team-building events and personal development outside of their normal working environment. The farm is open for volunteers too. If you want to be involved, come and join them on the farm! You don’t need any experience. If you’re willing to help and get your hands dirty, it’s a fantastic way to see how food grows, learn about gardening, planting, weeding and harvesting.
Volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds so you’ll get the chance to meet some great people as well as helping out the residents and trainees. You could be doing anything as a day volunteer from mucking out the chickens, harvesting the fields, helping in the kitchen or administration.
Buy a veg bag!
The farm selling fresh local produce to restaurants, delis, grocers, and through an innovative veg-bag scheme. Buy a veg bag! Cyrenians farm delivers Veg Bag to place of work and other convenient collection points (minimum 5 customers) in Edinburgh and the surrounding area. You can get their beautiful, locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables delivered to your workplace on a Thursday afternoon.
The Farm and Mark Greenaway
Edinburgh based chef Mark Greenaway has announced that over the next twelve months he will be working closely with Cyrenians as Restaurant Mark Greenaway’s nominated charity of the year. A huge part of what Cyrenians does is focused on food and this is where Mark hopes to help. They believe that food is the essence of everything. It’s about caring, sharing, eating together and developing community through food; “something to eat, someone to eat with”.
Rob, the Farm Manager, gave me a tour around the Farm where I could discover the different produce they have to offer like: potatos, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, fruits and edible flowers like nasturtium. Good news tho! When visiting Mark Greenaway’s Restaurant you will be sure to dabble in the succulent taste of the Farm products, as farm grows specific flowers, vegetables and herbs for Mark’s restaurant.
The Farm Orchard is a home to 35 different varieties of apples on 150 apple trees*. And there are plans to grow tea 🙂 Why not? If is possible to grow African vegetables (efo tete or knows as African spinach) in Scotland, why not tea ?
*some of the trees were plant by staff from one of the world-class financial service company during corporate away days 🙂
Call 01313335202 or email email@example.com to find out more about volunteering and for corporate away days.
Home and Housing
The Cyrenians Homeless Prevention Service is designed to help the people of East & South Edinburgh in overcoming their problems – whatever these are – and to move forward to a better life. They do this by offering advice and help to get customers through the difficulties they are experiencing. They meet customers at home to discuss their issues, accompany them to difficult meetings and link them to specific services.
Service is available to anyone in the area, all social groups and ethnic backgrounds regardless of their language capabilities.
What do they do?
They offer visiting support for up to six months and help people with:
- Money and debt advice
- Benefits and welfare advice and advocacy
- Developing financial and budgeting skills
- Tenancy issues including leases, deposits and repairs
- Help to explore housing options
- Providing pathways to employment
- Support with physical and mental health issues
- Help with addiction issues
- Support to develop independent living skills
- Help to deal with isolation and connect people with their community
How do they do it?
People who use the service receive their own personal plan, which is developed and reviewed regularly with their personal advisor.
Jakub is a Senior Personal Advisor and works in Cyrenians Homeless Prevention Service. During our conversation he tells me the story , and ends it with the sentence: ” We do not judge and moralize, we solve problems.” The history of the office shows different people stories. They know there are many reasons why people can face losing their home. The decades of experience mean they have an outstanding track record of solving housing problems and helping people avoid becoming homeless.
Did you know that the single biggest cause of youth homelessness in Scotland is family conflict? Every year, 5,000 Scottish young people (the equivalent of 5 high schools!) present as homeless because the relationship with their family breaks down. Conflict is normal in any relationship, however, if left unresolved it can have a serious and lasting destructive impact on health, well-being and life chances*.
They listen, they help and support people exluded from family, home, work or community on their life journey.
Whether you’re looking for support or would like to refer someone to the service, get in touch to find out more:
Call 0131 475 2354 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org