About Cyrenians. Volunteers in Edinburgh. Cyrenians Farm and City Communities

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1 About Cyrenians Cyrenians is a Scottish charity that supports people who are excluded from family, home, work or community. We were founded in Edinburgh in Today, there are lots of ways that we help people experiencing things like homelessness, poverty, mental health problems, family breakdown or unemployment. The charity gives priority to the use of volunteers in all its services in order to add value to the work of staff, promote social inclusion and reduce barriers between the formal organisation and the service Users. Volunteers in Edinburgh Cyrenians Farm and City Communities While the charity has grown and evolved over time the Communities were our very first projects and are still at the very heart of what Cyrenians does. The Communities are made up of two supported housing projects for people aged between 16 and 30. The City Community is based in a large house near the centre of Edinburgh, in Leith. The Farm Community is on a working farm in a tranquil rural setting just outside the city. The communities are funded by contributions from Social Work, the local council, residents and charitable donations. Each place can be home to up to eight residents at a time. Staff work during office hours, and volunteer peer mentors are on hand at all times. The aim of these communities is simple. To create a safe, stable and secure environment, where young people can live, learn and develop together. Page 1 Updated Sept 2013

2 Our residents come from a variety of backgrounds, including care leavers and people who have experienced family breakdown, homelessness, drug/alcohol issues or mental health problems. Wherever they come from, we work together to make them part of our community. The communities aim to help residents to develop their confidence, skills and abilities in order to begin to live independently and, eventually, to move to a more sustainable living environment. Living with volunteers helps residents see alternative ways of coping with problems, whilst not being expected to be perfect people; volunteers are embedded in the service as positive role models. Both Communities have around six volunteers who live with the residents in the community houses for 6 or 9 months. Volunteers must be aged so as to be true peers to the residents. In addition, both communities have a small staff team, whose role it is to assess the residents, provide structured guidance to them, uphold the rules and community agreements, and have overall responsibility for the project. Staff work standard office hours but are available on call if required. The roles of staff and volunteers are very different. The Role of Volunteers Volunteers are peer mentors to the community residents and do not substitute the work of paid staff. They live with residents in our community facility and manage the day-to-day domestic tasks and decisions within the building, which is their home. The process of being involved in decision-making empowers residents and helps to develop their confidence, skills and abilities. We endeavour to create equality between community members (residents and volunteers), but volunteers must note that the young men and women, who come to live here, come as a result of their need for support. Volunteer support for a resident may include: Accompanying a resident to appointments Engaging in leisure or social events with residents Helping a resident to cook a meal for the whole community Acting as a sounding board for a problem or difficult situation Offering mature and calm guidance Encouraging positive engagement in personal development Outside staffing hours, volunteers maintain a presence in the house (worked out on a rota). Volunteers are encouraged to be alert to any conflict or other emerging problems and are expected to remind community members of the rules, if necessary, and use their influence to maintain a stable environment. They will be vigilant to any issues threatening the health and safety of those present and will call staff and/or emergency services if required. Overall, the role is less supervisory and more one of promoting a positive, stimulating environment in which problems of boredom, conflict and other antisocial behaviours will be minimised. A minimum commitment of six months is required from each volunteer, this is to ensure continuity and stability within the houses; it also gives the volunteer a valid experience of community living. Whilst we ask you for your preference of community, volunteers are engaged by the service as a whole and may be required to move for operational reasons at any point in their placement. Throughout the placement volunteers may take their holiday days, and at the three-month stage volunteers may claim their holiday allowance. Page 2 Updated Sept 2013

3 Its hard work and very challenging, but a memorable experience. Susan was looking for experience to get onto a Community Education Post Graduate course at University. She had done some volunteer work with a local children s charity but felt she needed more experience. She travelled for six months, followed by volunteering with the Cyrenians for six months until her course started. Susan found about the Cyrenians through a web search. She ed for details, completed an application form. She came for a visit and interview a few weeks later. Having had her references and disclosure checked, Susan joined the Farm Community around a month later. It was a bit scary at first, but she quickly settled in and made friends. Working together on our farm What Volunteers can expect from Edinburgh Cyrenians All accommodation and food costs are met by Cyrenians Agreed travel costs and socialising activity costs incurred while working with residents will be reimbursed Weekly pocket money ( 30) Holiday allowance at the three-month stage ( 200 for a 6 month placement) Contribution towards travel expenses to the community when you first arrive (up to 80) Training and supervision to help get the most out of the experience A reference on completion of their placement A leaving grant to help with the next step ( 150) Page 3 Updated Sept 2013

4 An excellent experience to describe when applying for jobs or courses, it s especially relevant for people wanting a career in a caring profession. NB: volunteers are covered for any personal liability (i.e. the cost to the organisation of any incident in which they are involved) by the Charity s insurance. The charity is not responsible for insuring volunteers personal belongings. The charity is responsible for the health and safety of volunteers while performing their role. What volunteer can gain from their placement at Edinburgh Cyrenians. Volunteers use the experience with us to learn about youth work, social work, and community education and a range of other caring professions. This can be as a means to progressing onto a professional course in one of the above fields. It can be a very valuable post qualifying experience after completing a professional qualification. Volunteers have the opportunity to challenge themselves while making make a positive contribution to the host community. Community Rules There are some important rules for volunteers to observe whilst living in the community. Volunteers must live in the community Sexual relationships between volunteers and residents are totally inappropriate and are forbidden. Volunteers must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol whilst in the community Volunteers must deal with community funds in an appropriate and trustworthy manner Volunteers must uphold the policies and practices of the Cyrenians, such as the health and safety policy etc. Think carefully about these rules: if you do not think you can live by them for six months then this volunteering opportunity is not for you. If community volunteers do not comply with these rules, they are likely to be asked to leave the community. The final decision lies with the manager of the communities. Please referrer to the volunteer policy. Page 4 Updated Sept 2013

5 Volunteers and residents on climbing outing How it Works: Recruitment You have already made the first step to recruitment by reading this information. If you want to proceed with your application follow the steps below: each subsequent step is dependent upon success at the proceeding stage. Complete an application form making specific reference to this information and the ideal volunteer qualities Provide two referees who we can contact to find out about your suitability Interview, either in person or over the phone Guest visit if possible Submit a document with details of any criminal record Induction and information workshops Including: Introduction to staff, residents and volunteers Regular meetings with staff to explain unfamiliar ideas and processes Tour of the premises (and at the farm an induction into safe use of the land and care for the animals A communities handbook containing information on policy and practice Information sessions on a variety of relevant topics covering practice issues and background information Support All volunteers will be given an individual staff supervisor who will meet with them approximately every two weeks to find out how things are going. The purpose of the meetings is: to identify personal objectives for the volunteer placement. to support volunteers in dealing with the communal living environment to support problem solving for any specific difficult situations and challenging behaviour they are struggling to cope with. to support volunteers to get the most from their volunteering There are fortnightly Peer Support Sessions where volunteers get to spend the day together away from the community. Leaving An exit interview at the end of placement will help the volunteer to assess their contribution and personal development and give staff feedback on their perceptions of the experience. 8 Still want to volunteer with Edinburgh Cyrenians? Page 5 Updated Sept 2013

6 If you re interested in volunteering with us, please complete the application form and it to our recruitment team at If you don t have access to the internet you can send your application form to: RCSvolunteers Edinburgh Cyrenians Trust Norton Park Edinburgh EH7 5QY Page 6 Updated Sept 2013

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