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Coventry Cyrenians, which provides services to homeless and disadvantaged people in Coventry and Warwickshire, has begun a mission to raise £1 million in just 24 months. The charity focuses on changing and breaking negative stereotypes of homeless people, and sets out to empower people to rebuild their lives. In partnership with the Coventry Foodbank (run by The Trussell Trust), it provides vouchers for clients to be not only provided with emergency food, but also to be needs-assessed to address the issues that have lead them to require a food donation.
Coventry Primary Care Trust saved the Cyrenians from closure in April by, and agreed to fund the project for another year. The charity wants to ensure it continues providing a range of solutions for the homeless, so that they may improve their quality of life and live as independently as possible. Their core services are to provide accommodation, training and employment support for their clients. They want to move away from a reliance on grant funding streams by increasing their fund-raising efforts as well as developing a new retail unit to generate income.
Mike Fowler, chief executive of the Cyrenians, says: “Like many charities, we are finding that our government funding is reducing, which means we need to be more self-reliant. Our target by the end of 2012 is to have a 50/50 funding split of our £2 million a year turnover, which means we need to raise £1 million.”
Fowler is keen to adopt a more effective approach to tackle the problem of rough sleepers and other vulnerable people. He wants to deconstruct the common misconception that rough sleepers are “alcoholics and drug addicts”, to align with government research that shows in fact rough sleepers turn to these substances as a coping method to adjust to life on the streets.
“We want to enhance our service so that not only does it get people off the streets… but actually addresses the various issues which saw them end up there in the first place,” he adds.
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce is supporting the campaign by backing an appeal for local businesses to make a donation to the Cyrenians instead of sending Christmas cards.