• Working in partnership for impact: Cyrenians and Networking Key Services

    7 May 2024

    NKS Cooking Group

    Written By Georgina Bowyer, UKSPF Grants Manager

    Partnership working is a crucial component in Edinburgh’s busy and vibrant third sector.  With such a broad menu of projects and services, the landscape can sometimes be confusing and difficult to navigate.  In fact, in Edinburgh, we often refer to the widely coined “no wrong door” approach whereby an individual approaching a service can be smoothly signposted to relevant organisations, even if the first one isn’t quite the right match.  Knowing and understanding what other services have to offer, and working together where helpful not only increases efficiency but often unlocks additional benefits for individuals and communities.  In the context of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) programme, organisations across the differing themes have been encouraged to connect and understand each other’s work.  One particularly productive partnership that has formed is between Cyrenians Cook School and Networking Key Services (NKS).


    The Cyrenians Cook School provides support for people on low incomes to budget, plan and cook low-cost nutritious meals.  NKS deliver holistic support for those from South-Asian communities, including empowering women to increase their social networks and enable them to access services in their local community.  As a result of additional capacity in the Cook School through UKSPF funding, Cyrenians have run two elementary food hygiene courses for NKS clients this year.  The courses are accredited by the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS).  Participants have built confidence in handling and processing food that will be served to others, and it is hoped that going forward individuals will use their new skills to access both paid employment and/or volunteering opportunities.


    Access to educational opportunities is sometimes difficult when English is not your first language, but the Cyrenians team are skilled at navigating this having run several courses for non-English speakers in the past, including that they were able to book interpreters for the NKS course sessions.  This was a huge boost for the participants, enabling them to fully engage with the content.  Sue O’Neill-Berest from Cyrenians said:

    “Educational opportunities such as the food hygiene course we offer are important for building social capital within communities by building individual self-confidence and esteem. Many of those who complete a food hygiene course go into employment or volunteering opportunities in organisations and businesses across Edinburgh, positively impacting the local economy.

     We were enthusiastic to partner with NKS because we know from experience that a successful partnership will always have a greater impact than working alone. Partnerships build and foster trust relationships that are then leveraged to provide enhanced benefits for service users from both services.”

    Going forward, NKS and Cyrenians hope to work together on similar initiatives that advance their shared aims of empowering people to overcome barriers, improving their wellbeing, and supporting them to consider potential options for work, training and education. It has been encouraging to see such a positive example of partnership working through UKSPF, just one example of the many meaningful collaborations working to improve people’s lives across the city.


    Want to know more about UKSPF funded Edinburgh projects? Visit our UKSPF webpage.

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