Bill’s Story: Bill is a 56 year old professional; he wears a suit Monday to Friday and lives on his own and has always paid his rent early. Last month Bill lost his job of 17 years through redundancy. Bill lacks confidence, he has spent almost 20 years in the same job and doesn’t know where to begin to look for a new one. The weeks pass and Bill remains in denial about his situation, he doesn’t know who to approach for support or even if he has the ability to ask for it. As the bills pile up and the phone keeps ringing Bill’s mental health is suffering, he sees no way out for him and becomes increasingly withdrawn.
Lynn’s Story: Lynn is 42 and lives with her two almost teenage children. For the past 8 years she has worked in her local supermarket and was contracted to work 20 hours a week but made up a full time wage through overtime. This overtime, which her employer was not obliged to give, was suddenly stopped. She had little money saved and usually lived one day to the next on her low but steady salary. Lynn knew she had to look for a second job but had no immediate success. In debt and in arrears with her rent, Lynn and her two confused children were alone and under threat of eviction.
Craig’s Story: Craig is an only child living with his mother and has recently started to become a young man. Craig had always struggled at school, with the distractions from his life at home he always found it difficult to concentrate. With little qualifications Craig left school and worked hard to secure and hold down a job in a local fast food restaurant. It was after a particularly exhausting day that Craig arrived home to the news that his mother had found herself a new boyfriend and they had both decided to make a new life abroad, without him. Craig was told that he now had to fend for himself. The day before his 17th birthday he found himself homeless, vulnerable and so stressed that he lost his job.
The stories above are fictional but the problems are real.
“I thought it was my fault I was in trouble so who was going to bother? I was wrong.”
One of the most vital services that the Cyrenians provide is their Homelessness Prevention Service (HPS) in Edinburgh. Cyrenians are dedicated to providing services which endeavour to prevent people losing their home and slipping into longer term or repeat homelessness.
The HPS is a free service which works with people who have never before been homeless and who are often in education or employment. The HPS is available regardless of tenure and works with people who may not see themselves as having anything to do with homelessness, but who may have difficulties with:
- bills and budgeting, rent/mortgage arrears – any kind of debt
- problems with landlords, mortgage providers
- problems with partner, family or neighbours
- difficulties with health including drug or alcohol use
- feeling lonely or isolated
The HPS takes two core approaches to effectiveness through prevention:
Prevention Through Mediation
Cyrenians HPS in Edinburgh offers a Mediation service to people who may be experiencing difficulties with their landlord, problems with debt or paying their rent or mortgage. The mediation service is also available to tenants who are being accused of anti-social behaviour or who have difficulties as a result of the physical condition of their home. The mediator’s role is to be impartial, supportive and to find a way forward with the interest of all parties considered.
Prevention Through Improving Relationships
Amber is a service offered by Cyrenians to offer support and mediation for young people and their families. Amber works with young people (age 14 – 24) and their families who have been having problems with the relationships at home. By supporting young people and their families in these situations Cyrenians hope to reduce the risk of a total breakdown in relationship and a young person becoming homeless as a result. The service offers Personal Advisers who individually support everyone involved and Mediators who facilitate communication within the family, together they aim to find a positive way forward for all.
The benefits of a preventative approach to homelessness go far beyond those being assisted directly and are felt within the wider community. Edinburgh Cyrenians have faith in that by pre-empting and preventing homelessness their services and support can help avoid a whole range of associated problems such as rough sleeping, health issues and increased financial difficulties.
Here at Impact48, we need to gather helping hands, extra brainpower, fresh ideas and energy from volunteers for the Edinburgh Cyrenians Impact48 weekend in October. If you would like to volunteer please get in touch with us! Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also looking for financial support for the weekend in the shape of a sponsor. Could your business help? Find out more and get in touch with us at email@example.com.
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Videos courtesy of cyrenians.org.uk