MORE than £18,000 has been donated to Cambridge Street Aid since it was launched one year ago.
The charitable fund, which is supported by Cambridge City Council, has now paid out more than £15,000 in grants to help vulnerable people to get off, or stay off the streets.
The money generously donated by residents, businesses and visitors to the fund is all allocated towards grants of up to £750 to help people on the streets with the support, accommodation and employment they need to turn a corner in their life.
Examples of how the grants have been used include:
- Helping someone pay advance rent on the first home they have had in many years;
- Paying for a bicycle to help a formerly homeless man travel to a new job;
- Providing some of the start-up costs for two people who had been on the streets to set up their own small businesses;
- Subsidising the cost of construction certificates to enable people to work on building sites;
- Buying essential household items for people moving into in new homes;
- Enabling a support worker to improve engagement with rough sleepers.
Cambridge Street Aid was set up to give people wishing to help others they may see on the streets an alternative to handing over cash. Studies have suggested that these donations can sometimes hamper people getting off the streets if they are spent on alcohol or drugs.
In total 26 people were identified as sleeping rough in Cambridge at an annual count recently, compared with 40 people at the same time last year. Although this figure provides only a snapshot of rough sleeping and can vary significantly from night to night, the result is an indication that action taken by the council and its partners is making an impact.
As well as an annual count, the council count the number of people sleeping rough four nights a week, and extensively once every quarter.
From November to March, 48 free of charge beds can be made available for rough sleepers when the weather is bad as part of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.
In addition to supporting Cambridge Street Aid, the council and other organisations provide a range of services for rough sleepers, homeless people and those at risk of homelessness, including:
- Giving more than £700,000 a year in grants to charities and services helping homeless people and people on the street, with all the major local homelessness charities receive some funding from the council.
- Forging strong links with local homeless charities Jimmy’s Cambridge, Wintercomfort, Change Grow Live (which provides a street outreach service), Riverside Care and Support, Cambridge Cyrenians, the Cambridge Churches Homelessness Project, and a range of smaller providers. These organisations help the council set priorities for its work to assist street people and rough sleepers.
- Working with local organisations who provide over 500 beds, of which 300 are for single homeless people in hostels and other accommodation, a very high figure compared to the population of Cambridge as a whole.
- Ensuring up to 40 council or housing association tenancies a year are available exclusively for former rough sleepers are ready to move on from hostel accommodation.
- Working with a range of enforcement agencies and initiating a series of patrols intended to deter begging, and to let the public know how best they can help people on the streets.
Cllr Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “Cambridge Street Aid has started to have a real effect on people’s lives during the last 12 months.
“While the 26 people recently counted as sleeping rough is 26 too many, we are optimistic that through the hard work of many agencies in the city, we are now able to provide even more support to help people get off the streets.
“As well as supporting Street Aid, we have been working closely with our partners to better coordinate our efforts at providing the help people in such difficult circumstances really need.
“One of the ways we have done this is by appointing new officers to work closely with people on the streets, which has seen some who were previously very resistant to being helped take up new accommodation.
“The public’s response to Cambridge Street Aid since it was launched last year has been magnificent, and I’m sure everyone who has donated their money will be delighted to know that it has helped improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
“I would urge the very generous Cambridge public to continue to donate to Cambridge Street Aid so we can continue to improve more lives.”
To donate to Cambridge Street Aid people can either text ‘CAMB16’ followed by the amount they wish to donate to 70070 (for example ‘CAMB16 £3’), or can do so online at http://www.cambscf.org.uk/cambridge-street-aid.html.
For more information visit https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/alternative-giving-campaign