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Cambridge Street Aid and Co-op launch three more contactless donation points to help rough sleepers

News release from 20/12/2018

PEOPLE donating to Cambridge Street Aid, the charitable fund supported by Cambridge City Council which helps people move on from sleeping rough, can now do so at three more contactless donation points.

The new contactless donation points are being launched on Friday 21 December at the Co-op stores on Mill Road and Chesterton Road, with another being installed in the Co-op at Burwell.

Earlier this year the first two contactless terminals were installed in the window of the council’s customer service centre at Mandela House on St Andrew’s Street, and inside the Visitor Information Centre, situated on the Peas Hill side of the Guildhall.

[Update, 10 January 2019: Donations can no longer be made at the visitor information centre.]

The new donation points mean that people can quickly and easily donate money to Cambridge Street Aid using contactless debit or credit cards, or smartphones. They are available 24 hours a day at the new Co-op donation points and at Mandela House.

Since first being launched in late 2016, Cambridge Street Aid has paid out more than 140 grants totalling more than £37,000 to help give people the support, accommodation and employment assistance they may need in order to make a positive difference to their lives.

It was established to give anyone wishing to help vulnerable people on the streets of Cambridge an alternative to handing over cash directly.

All donations to the fund from residents, businesses and visitors to the city go towards individual grants of up to £750 to help people on the streets.

Examples of how grants have so far been used include:

  • Providing a travel fund for homeless and vulnerably housed people to attend appointments to help improve their lives, and engage with services they require
  • Providing funds to help someone access adult education to improve her skills and increase her chances of finding work
  • To fund a second hand laptop to help a long-term homeless woman study to become a nurse;
  • To pay for a health and safety qualification and a construction card, so that a formerly homeless man can get a construction job;
  • Allowing someone to purchase a passport and replacement birth certificate so they can open a bank account;
  • Paying for safety boots and shoes so a previously homeless man can start a manual job
  • Subsidising the cost of a travel fare home so that a man sleeping rough in Cambridge could return to his family to be accommodated and cared for

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “Since it was first launched, the Cambridge Street Aid fund has really struck a chord with Cambridge residents and visitors wishing to help people move on with their lives. One of the great features of Street Aid is that every successful grant begins with a person on the street hearing about it and deciding for themselves what would help them improve their lives, after discussing it with a support worker.”

“By introducing more of these contactless giving terminals with our partners we are making it even easier for people to help make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Michael O’Toole, CEO of Cambridgeshire Community Foundation which manages the charitable fund, said: “Street Aid has huge advantages for anyone wanting to help the homeless. You know your donation will be used as part of a structured approach to help people change their way of life. Your donation is pooled into bigger grants, then homelessness organisations in Cambridge assess the individual’s circumstances and work with them to find the best way to get off, and stay off, the streets.”

The Bishop of Ely, The Right Reverend Stephen Conway, who supports Cambridge Street Aid and whose diocese helps fund outreach work by St Paul’s Church in Cambridge, said: “Street Aid invites us to make a choice: ‘loose change or real change’. I am so glad that two new contactless giving points are going to be launched in Cambridge before Christmas. We can give money that can change individual lives for good in a responsible way.”

In addition to supporting Cambridge Street Aid, the council and other Cambridge organisations provide a range of services for rough sleepers, homeless people and those at risk of homelessness. These include:

  • 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;
  • Maintaining 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 other providers. These organisations help the council set priorities for work to assist street people and rough sleepers;
  • Ensuring up to 40 council or housing association tenancies a year are available exclusively for former rough sleepers or those at risk of rough sleeping.

Earlier this year received additional government funding for a programme of assistance for people on the streets. This programme is allowing late-night patrols by the police and other agencies to assist rough sleepers, direct them to where safe beds are available and provide them with a support worker to help find a permanent housing solution.

The council works with local organisations who provide more than 500 beds in Cambridge for people at risk of sleeping rough, including 300 for single homeless people in hostels and other accommodation. This is a very high figure compared to the population of Cambridge as a whole.

Between 1 November and 1 April the council also works with its partners to provide additional emergency accommodation for rough sleepers during bad weather, under the Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP).

This winter 29 additional beds are being provided during bad weather, with an additional 17 beds being provided from December by the Cambridge Churches Homelessness Project. While an independent initiative, the churches work closely with the council and its partners in support of the overall severe weather effort. 

This year, for the first time, the 20 beds provided for male rough sleepers under the severe weather initiative will be hosted from the Salvation Army Community Centre on Mill Road, allowing the service to be better managed and targeted. Six beds (and more if demand determines) will continue to be provided exclusively for female rough sleepers at Jimmy’s main centre on East Road.

Other ways to donate to Cambridge Street Aid are by texting ‘CAMB16’ followed by the amount people wish to donate to 70070 (for example ‘CAMB16 £5’), or online at http://www.cambscf.org.uk/index.php/cambridge-street-aid.html

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