Cyrenians benefit from Lotto cash boost

Service manager 'Viki Phillipps and project worker Richard Glynne-Owen. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Service manager 'Viki Phillipps and project worker Richard Glynne-Owen. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Even tight-knit families can see relationships become fraught in times of stress.

And sometimes arguments can quickly escalate, bonds can break down and tensions can rise to such a degree that all hope of a reconciliation seems lost.

That’s where the Edinburgh Cyrenians come in, and that’s where the money you spend on the National Lottery every week makes a huge difference.

Through its Amber Mediation Service, the Cyrenians has improved countless ­relationships and – in many cases – prevented young people from ending up on the streets. Launched in 2006, the independent service has helped hundreds of families resolve their differences – and this year received a huge boost with more than £539,000 of lottery funding.

Support co-ordinator Viki Phillipps, who has been involved with the project since the start, explains: “Parents often talk of how challenging or disrespectful they find their teenager’s behaviour while young people describe a lack of understanding or time parents appear to have for them.

“With increased pressure on households due to unemployment, benefit cuts and welfare reform, tension between adolescents and their families can reach boiling point.

“Thanks to the Lotto funding we have received, the project has gone from strength to strength.”

Amber works with young people aged 14 to 24 and their families who have problems getting on.

In many cases, what was a previously loving home has become a battle ground – and arguments might be putting the young person at risk of having to leave home, or they might already be homeless. Parents are often feeling ­hopeless, angry and desperate.

The Amber team has worked with more than 400 families in Edinburgh and East Lothian to help them restore relationships and rebuild communication. Viki adds: “Families are more confident in their ability to manage conflict and have increased strategies to cope with arguments at home.”

Amber recognises that for many families, extra support may be needed to address problems such as poor health and well-being, school ­exclusion, substance misuse or financial difficulties. And where one of the parties turns down mediation, the project even employs personal advisors to “bookend” the process, providing short-term support to both parents and young people.

This support can often be the lifeline for family members struggling to cope with a parent or child’s behaviour and can be over the phone, by text and e-mail.

The work of the Cyrenians, an independent charity founded in 1968, is funded by generous donations and the National Lottery is a vital part of that.

With secured funding and increased staffing, the ­conflict resolution service will be ­promoting its work across the city with a strong vision of reducing the personal and social harm caused by warring parents and teenagers.

Says one 15-year-old who benefitted from their help: “Without Amber, I would have run away or been kicked out.”

By playing the National Lottery you help raise £35m every week for Good Causes. To see this difference this makes in your community visit