Cambridge Street Aid fund raises nearly £25,000 to help rough sleepers

News release from 7 February 2018, 10:36am

GENEROUS residents and visitors to Cambridge have donated nearly £25,000 to a fund to help rough sleepers in just over a year since its launch.

So far Cambridge Street Aid has paid out more than £17,000 in small grants to 65 vulnerable people to help them get off or stay off the streets.

Examples of how the grants have been used include:

  • Paying for a health and safety course for a formerly homeless man which helped him find employment and move into a supported house;
  • Helping towards buying new clothing for someone to wear in his new volunteering role;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Buying essential household items for people moving into in new homes;

The money donated to the fund is allocated towards grants of up to £750 to help people with support, accommodation and employment.

Cambridge Street Aid, which is supported by all the city’s homelessness charities, was set up to give people wishing to help others they may see on the streets an alternative to handing over cash as this can sometimes hinder people from getting off the streets.

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: “The public’s response to the Cambridge Street Aid fund has been extremely positive, and the money raised has had a favourable effect on many people’s lives already.

“Some donors have left messages to say how pleased they are to be able to give, knowing their gift will be well spent. Formerly homeless people helped by the scheme have also been touched by the generosity of others, with one writing to say ‘I can’t thank you enough for your kindness towards me – it makes me realise people do care.

“Street Aid is just one of the ways in which we are reducing rough sleeping and homelessness in Cambridge, as shown by the latest last street count in November which indicated that the number of rough sleepers here has decreased significantly over the past year.

“I would urge the Cambridge public to continue to donate to Cambridge Street Aid instead of giving money directly to people on the streets, so we can continue to improve more people’s lives and help them find long lasting solutions.”

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://cambscf.org.uk/cambridge-street-aid.html   

For more information visit https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/alternative-giving-campaign