Edinburgh's oldest charity on 280 years of care

The Dean and Cauvin Trust has kept the Capital's vulnerable young people safe for centuries.

Picture: Dean orphanage sewing room
Picture: Dean orphanage sewing room

Since being established in 1733, the charity have continued to transform the lives of Scotland’s vulnerable young people.

The trust have given a home to hundreds of young people in need, supported new families and given a better future to those who otherwise would’ve gone without.

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The concept of the trust was established by Andrew Gairdner, a merchant in Edinburgh and Treasurer of the Trinity Hospital after he devised a plan to open an orphanage for children and young people, who were begging and prostituting themselves to survive.

Picture: Dean orphanage sick room

The first ever property in what was to become a long-running charity endeavour was a house in Baillie Fifes Close in what is now referred to as the Old Town, Edinburgh.

Mr Gairdner also purchased a former religious house and converted it into a woollen and linen manufacturing factory to provide the young boys with training opportunities.

As the years progressed, accommodation was expanded in order to help more abandoned children.

In 1833, the newly built Dean Orphanage was opened which was hoped to be a much safer and cleaner environment for the kids to live in.

Picture: Louis Cauvin (middle figure)

The charity as we know it today is named after Louis , teacher and founder of the Cauvin Institution and the village of Dean, where the orphanage was situated.

Today, the orphanages have been replaced with two modern residential services at Portland Street, Leith and Cauvin House, Meadowbank.

Despite the change in housing, the founding principal to support vulnerable young people remains the same.

The charity provides a home for those in need through residential placements and single supported tenancies to young people aged 15 and 21-years-old.

Picture: Pamela Kidd, CEO of the Dean and Cauvin Trust

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Aftercare services are available for looked after children until the age of 25 - a measure that has only recently been matched by the Scottish Government’s Children and Young People Bill 2014.

Pamela Kidd, CEO of Dean and Cauvin trust explains: “Historically kids who have been asked to leave care aged 16 and go on to their own tenancy can’t manage and they end up homeless or on drugs.

“To prevent all that happening we’ve got an aftercare service for people in the community who have been in care up to the age of 25 and we’ve also got our transitional team who support kids from care.”

Picture: Dean orphanage sick room

“Years ago the prison service was overrun with young people because they’re going from one institution to another. It’s not institutionalised anymore. We’re trying to make it as homely possible so it’s like being in a family environment where we work alongside them as you would if it was your own kids.”

Another branch of the residential services offered by the Trust is for young parents and their children, which offers parenting support and assessment to ensure families can stay together and develop in the best way possible.

A beneficiary of the support the charity offers was young mum, Lo, who stayed at Cauvin House when she was pregnant with her first child.

She said: “I always felt like I got help from staff and when I came home from hospital after giving birth, Cathy stayed up with me and made sure I was ok”, she explains.

“I moved away from Edinburgh for a while but when I came back I got help from Dean and Cauvin straight away. I got an aftercare worker, Suzanne, who would see me every week and give me support with lots of things.

“Suzanne has been there for me through the hardest time in my life and gave me support when I needed it. 
“I’ve had support from Dean and Cauvin for about four years and think if I didn’t have Cauvin house or aftercare support, I wouldn’t have the chance to be a mum.”

Picture: Louis Cauvin (middle figure)

The next few years could see the Trust expand even further with the opening of a foster care service aimed at finding carers for children over 13 years-old.

“The outcomes seem to be better for kids who go through foster care and there’s a massive lack of foster carers for children aged 13 plus, so we’re busy developing a service for 13 plus to see if we can recruit carers for young teenagers”, Pamela explains.

“Education nowadays is paramount in getting on in life.” Pamela explains,

“They’re not just our young people they’re society’s young people.”

Picture: Pamela Kidd, CEO of the Dean and Cauvin Trust