Founded in 1970 Cambridge Cyrenians now provides a range of accommodation, support and specialist services for homeless people.
Set up with the aim of offering a real alternative to traditional homeless hostels, Cambridge Cyrenians offers small shared houses where residents are encouraged to take responsibility for their own lives, so as not to take away their ability to have constructive influence over their surroundings. An important feature of our houses is the input residents have in the decisions affecting their house.
Many people need groups to which they belong, to which they can contribute and in which they can develop, so the emphasis is on sharing of chores and responsibilities.
Cambridge Cyrenians provide accommodation for 68 single homeless men and women.
Our attitudes to homeless people are often determined by preconceived ideas - for instance it is often presumed that the blame for homelessness lies with the individuals themselves.
The reality is often quite different - social and economic factors are a major cause of homelessness. The break up of the family unit, or the lack of employment skills has led many young people to move around the country in search of accommodation or work. The deteriorating housing situation for single people in general makes the problems facing them all the more severe. It is all too easy to get into the'Catch 22' of being unable to find a job without a place to live and unable to find a place to live without a job...
Some people are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. Those who have been 'institutionalised' by prison or the armed forces often find it difficult to cope on their own. The social and financial problems that go hand-in-hand with alcoholism or loss of employment can easily result in homelessness.
There is no simple solution to the problem of homelessness, but a central feature of any approach must be to offer a variety of housing options so that single people have real choice.