Our 50th Anniversary - My CMS

We have been Changing Lives for over 50 years

Changing Lives started in 1970 to reach out to the most socially excluded rough sleepers on the streets of Newcastle. This is still where our heart is today. We help people who have experienced the most challenging times, usually as a result of deprivation, trauma and discrimination.

How the charity has evolved

With the appointment of Stephen Bell in 2002, we began to look at how we could deliver more holistic support, helping people to overcome the different challenges they face. We saw the links between homelessness, unemployment, addiction and mental health.

Since then, our services have expanded in both provision and geography. Changing Lives now operates nationally, employing over 600 people and managing over 100 projects with the support of more than 400 volunteers. We have continued to adapt and grow, adding specialist support programmes for women and for people with experience in the criminal justice system. In recent months the charity has expanded its services further, taking on a contract to manage supported accommodation properties in Westminster, London.

We rebranded as Changing Lives in 2013 to better reflect our vision. But our purpose remains true to that of our founders: to support those facing social exclusion, with compassion and a belief in every person’s ability to change.

Key milestones in our history

  • 1970

    The start of our services. A soup run in Newcastle supports people who are sleeping on the streets. We were known as the Tyneside Cyrenians.

  • 1970 to 1980

    Services expand to include a night shelter in Newcastle and work in neighbouring Gateshead.

  • 1980 to 1990

    Our work in Newcastle and Gateshead grows, with the development of numerous housing projects for people experiencing homelessness.

  • 1990- 2000

    We develop our accommodation services further, alongside other support programmes for people experiencing homelessness. Elliott House opens in 1990.

  • 2000 to 2010

    Stephen Bell became CEO and our work expanded. We opened our first women’s service, began our partnership with FareShare UK, set up our property division TCUK and opened our first drug and alcohol treatment centre in Gateshead.

  • 2010 to present day

    Our work expanded beyond the North East and we become a national organisation, taking on and launching new projects in Yorkshire, the Midlands, the North West and Westminster. To reflect our mission, we change our names to Changing Lives.

How we’ve supported people:

   Make a donation

Donate today and help our dedicated staff and volunteers around the country continue to support over 14,000 people and their families every year.


  Become a volunteer

Volunteer with Changing Lives and help make a huge difference in your community, supporting people to overcome the challenges they are facing.