Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 15:26 UK

Homeless charity's print venture

By Kevin Keane
North East reporter
BBC Scotland

Iceberg Arts studio
Volunteers who were helped by the Cyrenians run the print studio

A cash-strapped Aberdeen charity for homeless people has launched a unique venture to try and raise extra funds.

The Cyrenians, one of the organisations hit hardest by Aberdeen City Council's funding cuts, has set up the Iceberg Arts Design and Print studio.

The new scheme is operated on a voluntary basis by homeless people who have needed the charity's help.

It is hoped that profits made by the commercially-operated company can be ploughed into the general funding pot.

The organisation said it is thought to be the first time homeless people have been used to run a company in such a way.

Manager Graham Stephen said: "Quite a lot of clients that the Cyrenians see, who have been affected by homelessness, haven't worked for a long time.

"Here we can create a friendly environment to get back into the practice of work."

Helping hand

About 40 homeless people have so far become involved with the project which operates from a former toilet block at one of the charity's bases.

Although not making a profit yet, it is hoped the scheme will eventually provide much needed funds with the benefit of providing people with work experience.

The charity staged major protests when its budget was cut

Volunteer Iain Graham said: "I decided I wanted to do a bit of voluntary work just to pay something back for all the help I had from them.

"I do anything that needs to be done from packing the goods up, doing the paperwork and I'll even empty the buckets."

The Cyrenians staged a series of high-profile protests in March when it was announced that its funding work would be cut by the council.

Labour councillor Barney Crockett told the BBC Scotland news website: "I think the spirit behind it is wholly admirable and I fully support it.

"But I have to say that the amounts of public money that's disappearing from projects such as Cyrenians means there would be an awful lot to do to support such ventures."

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