A little light in the darkness - Ewan Aitken

Christmas this year has felt very strangeChristmas this year has felt very strange
Christmas this year has felt very strange
I won’t be the last to note this has been a very different Christmas. It’s been great to see how folk have still managed to adapt to our restricted circumstances and find ways to bring some cheer to the world. Like the Thistle Do Nicely choir who put on a virtual carol concert and raised over £500 for Cyrenians #NextStep winter appeal; the pupils at Merchiston Castle School who put on a five-a-side football tournament, a sports day, and more, for the same appeal; or the person who paid for 50 hampers for families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford such luxury food.

It’s been really heartening for both my colleagues and those we support to see the generosity of so many at what is undoubtably a tough time for a lot of people. I would like to thank all the organisations, businesses and supporters who have donated to our work.

The idea of a #NextStep as a theme for the winter appeal was to remind us the journey out of homelessness is rarely an instant solution and life is sorted. People who find themselves experiencing homelessness do so often for many different reasons or combination of life events. To see a way out can take time and many steps, with stumbles on the way. Even when a house becomes available and they can begin to build a new home, support is often still needed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Our Housing First programme, for instance, is a consortium of seven charities collaborating to support folk who have been excluded from housing often for years because of the complexity of the challenges they face. The consortium supports over 180 people, over 90 of whom now have tenancies. But the support will be there for a lifetime if necessary. The tenancy is not the endpoint, simply the next step.

The Christmas story, with its focus on the birth of child and not the arrival of an adult as the answer to people who wanted to be free and to flourish, is a reminder of how real change takes time, happens one step at a time and does not always happen quickly. Our task to travel with those on the journey whatever it goes and however long it takes.

Our Christmas celebrations, full of gifts and generosity of spirit, have reminded us of the power of sharing what we have and the significance of connection and relationships in helping us flourish. Our belief is in trusted relationships as the heartbeat of change.

The Christmas lights, sparkling and fun offer perhaps more than ever this year, a little light in the darkness, not just of the winter evenings but the year which has been a struggle for all of us whatever our circumstances; but for some deeply difficult, especially those trapped by poverty and exclusion. Our ambition is to keep hope alive even for those in the toughest of realities by always seeing the person not their problems and never giving up on anyone.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The next year ahead will be very different. Whatever 2021 brings you, I hope you’ll feel able to take the #NextStep and join with us in building a society where nobody goes without a home, and everyone can flourish. www.cyrenians.scot

Ewan Aitken is the CEO of Cyrenians Scotland

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.