Aberdeen Cyrenians to hold Black and Gold fundraising ball

Cyrenians volunteers Gregor Howitt and Maggie Murison get in the spirit for Christmas
Cyrenians volunteers Gregor Howitt and Maggie Murison get in the spirit for Christmas

A homelessness charity is to return to its roots for a fundraising ball celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Aberdeen Cyrenians will hold its Black and Gold event tomorrow at the Elphinstone Hall at Aberdeen University.

Volunteer co-ordinators Sarah Igesund and Chloe Bartlett

The charity was started in 1968 by students at the university, who began to run a soup kitchen from the Castlegate.

It has undergone major changes since then, including the creation of a shelter for homeless people.

The charity has also expanded its remit to include six main projects, ranging from tackling alcohol dependency to helping those facing domestic abuse.

It now has two hostels and has helped more than 50,000 people who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Last year, 6,850 hours were logged by Aberdeen Cyrenians volunteers.

Sarah Fraser, volunteer events co-ordinator for the charity, said the ball was always a great occasion.

Laura Keith and Grace Dale of the music group

She said: “This is our 50th anniversary and throughout the year we’ve done a number of different events.

“The ball is always our biggest event and probably raises the most funds for us.

“It is really lovely that we are in the Elphinstone Hall as it was Aberdeen University students who started the charity as a soup kitchen back in 1968. It is a bit like we are returning home.

Around 160 people are set to attend the Black and Gold fundraiser with a number of businesses supporting the event including headline sponsor Chevron.

The team collect the Volunteer Friendly Award

Colin Slessor, star of BBC’s The Mart, is also volunteering his time on the night to run the auction to raise funds for the charity.

One of the items donated is a signed special edition of the Gangsta Granny book by David Walliams.

Sarah said staff at the charity are busier than ever helping people.

One of the important initiatives offered by the Cyrenians allows rough sleepers and other vulnerable people to have a hot shower, do their laundry and use computers to apply for jobs and benefits at the organisation’s Summer Street hub.

It’s there they can also have a hot meal and drink.

Each session at the city centre hub is attended by a worker from the charity’s advice, information and support resettlement team.

Sarah said: “Homelessness is still a very real problem and it is happening right here on our doorstep, which is why the support and shelter provided by Aberdeen Cyrenians is vital for so many who are in need.

Volunteer Maggie Murison

“Staff here can see up to a hundred people on a weekly basis, both at their drop-in centre and their street alternative service, and many of their service users are regulars who have come to depend on the valuable support of the Cyrenians.

“As well as tackling the issue of homelessness, support and advice is offered to both men, women and families who are experiencing domestic abuse.

“The violence against women unit was designed to support vulnerable women of all ages experiencing all forms of mental and physical abuse.

“The staff here are passionate about the work they do and the service they are providing.”

The Black and Gold Ball kicks off from 6.30pm tomorrow at the Port Elphinstone Hall with entertainment from the Last Resort Band.