Today I went to meet with Helen Fairhurst, a representative of Cyrenians, to pitch my photography idea with her.
The Cyrenians centre is next to the Job Centre in Coventry and acts as the administration offices; but there are interview rooms on the ground floor for the representatives to speak to people.
I asked Helen what Cyrenians is all about; established in 1973, volunteers would run a night shelter in Hillfields which housed 10 homeless people per night. From there, with the success and fundraising Cyrenians today is now offering help to the homeless in Coventry, Nuneaton and Stratford and is the biggest independent homelessness charity in the West Midlands. Cyrenians today offers:
- A rough sleepers service (16 years +)
- Young People Service (16-24 years)
- Adult Service (18+)
- Mental health services
- Multiple need service (counselling for drugs abuse etc)
Every year Cyrenians helps 1000 people. This makes it sound like there are hundreds of homeless people sleeping rough, but this is not true: Helen explained that someone suffering domestic abuse is counted as homeless because they don’t live in a safe environment. Homelessness ranges from rough sleepers to sofa surfers.
Helen is getting in contact with the Rough Sleepers centre at Norton House for me. I said that I would like to get to know the rough sleepers and establish respect and trust before asking to photograph them and Helen suggested I go on a Rough Sleepers walk which started at 5.30am on Tuesdays and Fridays- this is when support workers go around the city and inform the rough sleepers of their services so they can get support.
I was very happy with the meeting; Helen was very keen to get my project on the road so that more people can become aware that homeless people have stories. Hopefully I can meet with the rough sleepers next week.