When I joined i3Secure earlier this year, I realised that the company doesn’t just boast of its CSR initiatives; they allow us, the employees, to lead, identify our priorities, and drive these initiatives with their full support.
Thanks to this supportive environment, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at Cyrenians, an Edinburgh-based homeless charity. My involvement centers around their lunch club, a crucial initiative that provides not just a meal but also companionship and support to those facing homelessness and social isolation.
At Cyrenians, they tackle the causes and consequences of homelessness. They understand that there are many routes into homelessness and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to supporting people towards more positive and stable futures. That is why all their work is values-led and relationships-based.
The lunch club initiative started in July 2017 and originally ran fortnightly but because of expressed demand for a weekly service, they upscaled the provision in July 2018.
The service is targeted at those experiencing social isolation and loneliness recognised as significant triggers for poor mental and physical health. There are no further criteria beyond this which results in an inclusive lunch club attended by older people, young people, members of minority and disability groups and families alike. The lunches are a safe space for people to enjoy ‘something to eat and someone to eat with’ and the offering is enhanced by entertainment, quizzes, Burns Celebrations, and Christmas parties as well as support, advice, and signposting from their skilled staff and volunteers.
Why is Cyrenians important?
I’ve witnessed how much of a difference the lunch club makes to those who attend. For those that live alone, the chance to meet with others and have a chat with some friendly faces has an enormous impact on their lives. The current cost of living crisis is hitting everyone hard and the ability to have a freshly cooked meal and a cup of tea is a real help. I have lived away from Edinburgh for a large part of my adult life, but I am grateful now to be back home and be able help my community.
I have previously volunteered at Cyrenians Farm which had given me a good understanding of what the charity stood for and how it helps the local community. I emailed them and asked if they needed any additional volunteers for their lunch clubs, which I had seen advertised on social media, and was delighted when they replied. The lunch club that I help with has recently moved to my old primary school, which is now a local community hub in Newhaven, Edinburgh, which means I am helping in the heart of the area that I grew up in.
Any advice for anyone else considering getting into volunteering or who wants to help?
For anyone considering volunteering it really makes an enormous difference to those that the charities help. Whether it is at a lunch club, working in a charity shop, or volunteering with a befriending service, giving your time no matter how little, is appreciated beyond words and you really do have the opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.
I have met some wonderful people at the lunch club, from those who attend to those who work for Cyrenians, and they have all had a positive impact on me. So, if you are considering volunteering with a local charity, get involved and help to make a difference (no matter how small) to those who need it.