Some of the north east’s best-known business leaders are gathering today to investigate some of the challenges faced by homeless people in Newcastle, as part of a national initiative led by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Organised by Business in the Community (BITC), the ‘Seeing is Believing’ visit will be led by Paul Walker, the Prince’s Ambassador for the North East and chief executive of The Sage Group plc, and will tour a number of projects run by renowned regional charity The Cyrenians in and around the city centre which tackle homelessness and related issues.
The group will start out at The Cyrenians’ day centre, Ron Eager House, on Westgate Road, at which drop-in support services such as food, warmth, clothing and washing facilities are provided.
They will then move on to meet trainees at the charity’s Brighter Futures Construction Skills Training Centre, which provides introductory construction skills suited to future employment within the sector, before ending the day at Residential Academy and Centre of Excellence, Virginia House, a location which offer specialist ‘move on’ accommodation, as well as a ‘state of the art’ recording and radio suite, a fully equipped gym, IT facilities and an holistic therapy room.
Karen Wilkinson-Bell, Regional Director of Business in the Community, explains: “In the 20 years since it began, The Prince’s Seeing is Believing programme has taken over 7,000 business leaders on more than 800 visits across the UK, showing them the work of over 1,500 community organisations and schools, and helping to develop solutions to tackle issues of education, crime, employability and social exclusion.
“This particular visit is focusing on the very important issue of homelessness, something which affects many thousands of people here in the North East.
“Businesses can play a pivotal role in addressing homelessness by helping homeless people gain and sustain meaningful employment - by providing some of our key business leaders with practical insights into the issue, our aim is to offer a starting point for future collaborative action.”
Leader of the visit, Paul Walker adds: “I am pleased to be leading this visit on behalf of BITC’s President, The Prince of Wales, and delighted that so many of my colleagues in other businesses here in the region are joining me to take a look at what is an important social issue.
“I hope that we can come up with some practical solutions to take forward as a result of the visit, and am looking forward to reporting back on the outcomes when I meet with His Royal Highness at a special seminar towards the end of the year.”
The Cyrenians supports some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society. Their services include emergency direct access, supported accommodation, resettlement services, drug and alcohol treatment as well as domestic abuse services and support for those suffering sexual exploitation.
Stephen Bell says: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity of helping these high profile business leaders develop their understanding of the complex issues confronting many people in our society. At The Cyrenians we are proud of our reputation for creating innovative solutions and courageous interventions and we hope that through this visit opportunities will emerge to disseminate our best practice more widely.”