Connecting Business – Growing Opportunities

Meet the chosen charity of the Causeway Awards 2019, Cyrenians

With the Causeway Awards drawing nearer, we had a chat with Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive at Cyrenians, which is the chosen charity for this year’s Awards.


Celebrating another year of supporting and enhancing business links between Ireland and Scotland, the Awards will take place in Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow on September 19th.


As chosen charity, the Awards support Cyrenians by hosting a prize draw and raffle during the ceremony. Cyrenians is a charity that works with and supports those who are at risk of becoming homeless for a whole manner of reasons, as well as those who currently are homeless.


In this blog, Ewan tells us about the work Cyrenians does, the challenges and rewards of running a charity, and what it means to be this year’s chosen charity.


What does it mean to be this year’s chosen charity for the Causeway Awards?

“We are absolutely delighted, and more than a little humbled, to be selected as the Award’s chosen charity. So much of our work is about building and nurturing trusted relationships and so it feels like a great fit to be part of something which connects these two business communities.


“We are also delighted to have our brand and our mission put in front of a new audience and look forward to engaging with as many of you as possible at the Causeway Awards ceremony.”


What are some of the other fundraising activities you do throughout the year?

“At Cyrenians we are very fortunate to be supported by people who are creative and enthusiastic in their fundraising. Across the year our incredible supporters take part in sponsored events, attend screenings, comedy nights and our annual Supper Club - which this year features Ricky Ross in his only solo performance of 2019.


“Individual supporters host their own fundraising events like our Big Breakfast each September, gathering people to enjoy good food, good company and raise funds so we can continue providing over one million meals a year for those experiencing food insecurity.


“We are also incredibly grateful to our corporate supporters who help us through staff activities, team visits to our farm and food depot, and by hosting annual events much like the Causeway Awards.”


What are some of the ways Cyrenians helps to prevent homelessness?

“Cyrenians deliver sustainable solutions for the causes and consequences of homelessness. For us, prevention is key. Whilst we support individuals currently experiencing homelessness, where possible we work to stop that happening.


“For example, we know that the biggest cause of homelessness in young people is simply falling out with their family, and our mediation and support service works with young people and their families to find ways to avoid this happening. 98% of the young people we worked with last year were either able to remain at home or left home with support from their family.


“Across all of our other 35 services we work with people struggling with unemployment, relationship breakdown, social isolation, food insecurity, addiction and trauma, all of which we recognise as causes of homelessness. We are privileged to journey alongside these inspiring individuals from that tough reality to a more hopeful place.”


Why is it so important that people help support Cyrenians?

“We are committed to being an organisation who does not give up on people. We build relationships built on trust, and we keep turning up. We believe this is the way to build a more resilient Scotland where homelessness can be a thing of the past.”

What are some of the ways people can get involved and help out?

“One of our values is ‘innovation’ - we work collaboratively where possible and look to find new ways to support those who need us. If you have time, skills or, dare I say it, money you’d like to contribute, then we have over 35 projects which could benefit from those resources.


“From corporate volunteering to pro bono advice or buying a ticket for one of our events, we would be delighted to hear from anyone who might want to support us.”


What’s the biggest challenge of running a charity like Cyrenians?

“Balancing our obligation to those we support, alongside a robust business model and a resilient team of dedicated staff without letting any of them down. That is a constant balancing act!”


And what’s the most rewarding thing about it?

“Despite the challenges we face in an economically uncertain and politically charged environment, we create real change every day. I’m fortunate to work with a team of compassionate colleagues who live our values every day, providing the best opportunities and support for those we journey alongside.


“I am deeply humbled by the individuals who put their trust in us during a period of crisis, when trust is the most difficult thing to do.”


If you’d like to find out more about Cyrenians, click here. You can find out more about this year’s Causeway Awards here.

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