The positive reaction to the announcement of Cyrenians partnership with Social Bite to take their ambition of creating a Village for folk who are homeless was lovely to see. As with every new initiative which involves providing a pathway from a tough reality to a new opportunity, it won’t be the answer for everyone but it has added to the momentum and call for a serious rethink on not just what we do about supporting people who are homeless but challenging the reason why they are homeless in the first place.
Scotland already recognises the right to creating settled accommodation for people who are homeless but as ever, it’s in the delivery that the authenticity of its words and intentions need to be judged. We know every day some of the people who present as homeless to Councils across the country are turned away, only gaining access to emergency accommodation when they return with a support worker and/or a letter outlining their legal rights. Many are then in that “emergency” accommodation for months and even if they then access temporary accommodation, it can be years before they achieve the “settled accommodation” ambition of the legislation and things are getting worse.
Which is why this new partnership is so exciting for us. In many ways, somewhat ironically, what Cyrenians brings is not new; we’ve been working through building communities for nearly 50 years. But we’ve learnt a great deal in that time and we see this new innovative approach as a place where we can apply what we know in a new and exciting way. And the truth is, at the heart of any new approach are some old truths – transformation happens in all our lives when we feel safe and secure, that we belong and we matter, that we feel loved and loveable. By creating a nurturing community where members commit to looking after each other so the skills and the courage of independent living are developed.
Cyrenians have long believed that it is in relationships with others we find out who we really are and so our flourishing as human beings happens. That, at its very core, is what this partnership is about – it’s not a “solution to a social problem” it’s a place of human flourishing and that’s why it will work, not just for those who become residents but for all of us for whom this city is the place we call home.
20 July 2017