Nice Work If You Can Get It

It’s now public knowledge that Cyrenians has won a contract to deliver employability work in the Portobello and Craigmillar Neighbourhood. Competitive tendering is hard and doesn’t come easy to a charity like Cyrenians. It’s not a challenge to our business skills – we’re well equipped to go for the contracts we think we can do really well – but ‘winning and losing’ is a challenge to our values and culture. We tend to feel for the outgoing provider, (even if their workforce is transferring to us), and others who worked hard to compete but didn’t win. We’ve been on the losing side, even losing a service that we had invented and pioneered. It’s not nice. In most of our dealings – with landlords, councils and businesses – we’re geared up to looking for a win-win situation.

‘Toughen up,’ I can hear some of you say. Competitive tendering will ensure the survival of the fittest, providing the best, most cost-effective services. It will flush out poor services and keep the lucky winners on their mettle, driving continuous improvement. With the permanent contraction of Britain’s welfare state, this is the fairest way of making cuts.

The important thing is that the new Learning and Work service in Portobello and Craigmillar will provide great help for people who want to move forward towards a working life. Here’s one person’s story:

Nine months ago Terry was unemployed, drinking too much and things were sliding downhill… fast. Now more settled at home and wiser about himself, Terry last week secured employment with a major food retailer. What made the difference? At the end of the day, Terry’s determination and desire to get back the respect of his family after some tough times. But Terry tells us that it was having a chance to prove himself to himself by working as a trainee with Cyrenians food distribution social enterprise, combined with the flexible, ‘never give up’ support of the attached personal advisor, Karen, some counseling to help him understand himself and a Breakthrough to Excellence course that boosted his confidence and helped him shape plans for the future.


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