This week I visited the Cyrenians farm, which is based in Kirknewton. I last visited the farm about a decade ago as I was intrigued by the idea behind the farm. Over the years I’ve been impressed by the range of projects the cyrenians have run to tackle homelessness and support people through tough times. So it was great to revisit the project and speak to the Cyrenians team about their work. There have been changes at the farm with sheep and goats being replaced by fruit and vegetables and a bigger profile for the Cyrenians through sales at local farmers markets.
The farm offers a breathing space for people whose lives have hit rock bottom, but who have decided that they want to move on. They live and work on the farm supported by staff and volunteers. The aim is to enable people to get their lives back and the Cyrenians works with people to get them a stable home when they complete their time at the farm.
It’s a model that works as it gives people have the time and space to work through their issues. The shadow of Des Ryan, Edinburgh Cyrenians former Chief Executive was ever present as interim Chief Carol Anne Alcorn and staff talked about his inspirational leadership and reflected on future challenges.
The volunteers I met are motivated by the desire to improve people’s lives. For some it can be a step towards a new vocation and one of the volunteers talked about her decision to move into social work as a career.
I was also able to hear at first hand about the new Golden Years project the Cyrenians have started in conjunction with West Lothian Council which aims to overcome the isolation many older people experience. Although the project is in its early days lessons are being learnt as volunteers work with people to support them to find local social networks.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Cyrenians or finding out more about their work go to http://www.cyrenians.org.uk/