Edinburgh Cyrenians and PricewaterhouseCoopers

The homelessness charity hosts the professional services firm


For the past two years, PricewaterhouseCoopers the professional services firm, has partnered with Edinburgh Cyrenians, a charity that supports people on the margins of society, in order to provide guidance on its work.

PwC runs a Responsible Leadership Programme that enables teams of partners from the firm to live and work with selected host charities for a few weeks.

Three partners volunteered at Cyrenians in 2009 for a month and another group volunteered for three weeks in September and October.

According to Des Ryan, chief executive of the charity, the volunteers are still in regular contact with members of the Cyrenians leadership team, providing business advice and making introductions to contacts who can help with the charity's work.

"It's a unique chance for us to have some seriously big brains look at what we're doing, and to harvest some of their ideas and insights," says Ryan.

The partners were particularly helpful, he adds, in securing meetings with officials on council and health boards to get their perspectives on the charity.

This showed the charity that it needed to improve the way it informed the public sector about services it offers in areas such as preventing homelessness and helping people to find work.

Amanda Clack, a partner at PwC who took part in the scheme at Cyrenians this year, says the experience was "transformative".

"You see people in a very different way - you listen more, you don't jump to conclusions as quickly," she says.

Clack praised the charity's openness about its work with the partners. "It meant we could quickly get beneath the skin of the organisation and understand what it was about," she says.

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