Learning, Working, Contributing and Moving On

Within Cyrenians’ Social Enterprises and Learning & Work Services, we are continually responding to the increased demand for training and work experience

Our focus is not only about ‘on the job’ experience, it is also about developing confidence and combating loneliness; and building positive community links. Many of the people we work with have been written-off by society but when given the opportunity can move from being ‘the helped’ to becoming ‘the helper’. We see confidence and self respect growing in some of the most marginalised people in our community and their motivation is evident in the way they embrace this opportunity for a new start in life.

One of our Enterprise Managers recently become a Dad – a time of total joy for the new parents as they celebrate the birth of their first child and begin to look at the world in a new way.  Christopher shared some thoughts last week via our internal staff weekly update, and a précis of this is as follows:

“My daughter (still a novelty to me) is asleep in my arms and I ponder the world.  She won’t lie down on her own; needs someone to hold her until she reaches deep sleep.  Presumably this is because she feels secure with something bigger and stronger looking out for her.  It feels good to be a protector over something so vulnerable.

My mind wanders to darker thoughts: Who am I protecting her from?  There are many dangers in the world outside and I slip into thoughts of the people in this world who will be a danger to her, now and in the future. Other youngsters who might bully her in school; innocent bystanders who unwittingly cough disease in her direction; school teachers who label her too quickly and don’t fulfil her potential; bad parents who don’t know what they’re doing.  (I scrub the last one quickly.  It doesn’t help to go down that road.)  At work the next day I look out of the office at our volunteers and trainees working away with a commitment and energy.  Among them are people who have made some pretty bad life choices.  Some will have actively victimised others or have been victimised, others doubtless will just have been a bad influence and paid the penalty.  But that’s not where they are now.”

As a charity we know these folks are making a contribution to our society, and moving away from the old life towards something new and positive.  For most they are not going back to ‘the old life’.  To quote Christopher again “the work we do has given them the chance to be more than they were; to add to the world, not take away.  Sometimes I am asked why we work with people who are living on the margins of society.  I will now add a selfish answer to my repertoire: for my daughter.  I am proud of my team, this charity and the work we do.”

This innovative Learning & Work Programme works and it is all about taking an individual on an appropriate journey tailored to their needs. Some cases may take a bit longer than others, but it is all about life changes and sustainability – not just for today but in the years ahead.

Carol-Anne Alcorn (Interim CEO)

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