Two charities have been given a £12,500 boost to help people out on Aberdeen streets.
Aberdeen Street Pastors volunteers help vulnerable people in the city on weekend evenings, while Aberdeen Cyrenians provides food, clothing and other support for people on the street.
Now, Aberdeen Inspired, the body tasked with boosting business in the city, has secured £6,250 for each of the two charities from the National Business Improvement District – funding made up of contributions from traders.
Aberdeen Street Pastors, a group run by Christian volunteers, said the cash will pay for blankets and sleeping bags to last an entire year, while Aberdeen Cyrenians said the funding will pay for part-time staff to attend a regular drop-in session where people can get help with housing, job and benefit issues.
Aberdeen Cyrenians fundraising manager Kate Loades said: “We work with people who are homeless, but also do a lot of work trying to prevent homelessness – and that is specifically where this money will be used.
“It will support our drop-in centre (at its base on Summer Street), which provides direct access for people who are struggling and on the verge of homelessness.
“It means we can do some more intensive work looking at people’s budgeting, access to benefits, housing support and offer a wealth of other support so they will hopefully not become homeless.
“Availability of funding is becoming more critical: as we approach the end of the year, the whole (drop-in) project will be completely funded by donations so we desperately need the funding to make sure that service can continue.
“This funding has come at a great time for us. It will make sure we have expertise there – staff with a wealth of knowledge who can make a huge difference to the people they support.”
She added: “It is amazing when the service has success stories and gets positive feedback. It’s what motivates us and gets us out of bed in the morning to help people.”
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Aberdeen Street Pastors director Adrian Rowett said: “We’re out on the streets on Fridays and Saturdays and this funding will help us buy and distribute blankets, ponchos and sleeping bags.
“We spend about £6,000 a year on this type of equipment so it is about a year’s worth of kit. Hopefully it will be enough, maybe we’ll need more.
“It is critical to get this kind of support. The only reason we’re able to do what we do is because we receive this support. It’s very helpful to us. It’s rather nice that both organisations are getting a share of this funding. We try to relay a lot with Cyrenians and one of our volunteers is a Cyrenians worker.”
Besides assisting people out on the streets, street pastors also help vulnerable revellers from their Safe Space bus in the city centre, whether it is by offering a bottle of water or help calling a taxi home.
The bus is in Belmont Street from 10.30pm to 3.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Mr Rowett added: “We’ve also been able to help with annual shows out in Aberdeeshire.
“Halloween will be a busy night for us in the city and it will be busy once the university freshers are back.
“We will try to be there for everyone. It ranges from those who are very vulnerable, homeless or without support all the way up to those who need to know where the nearest bus or taxi is.
Aberdeen Inspired chief executive Adrian Watson said: “We get a lot of feedback from businesses saying that people being out on the streets is a key issue for them.
“But they are not being cold or cynical towards people on the streets and begging – it’s quite the reverse. There is a lot of empathy there so it was very easy for us to reflect that and go for this funding to bring it to these two wonderful organisations.
“They deal with challenging issues in the here and now at all hours.”