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150th grant awarded by Cambridge Street Aid to help people on the streets to turn a corner

News release from 13/02/2019

THE 150th grant has been given out by Cambridge Street Aid, the charitable fund supported by Cambridge City Council which helps rough sleepers.

It was awarded to a man looking for work in the construction industry, to pay for a health and safety course and qualification.

Since the scheme launched in November 2016, 150 people have now received Street Aid grants totalling more than £39,000.

Street Aid grants are given to people who are – or have been – street homeless in Cambridge, to help them get off, and stay off, the streets.

People have received financial help for a range of purposes - from training courses and smart clothes to help them find work, to rent deposits on accommodation and furniture for new homes. Every single penny donated to Cambridge Street Aid goes directly to grants for individuals. 

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

Last year, the first five contactless donation points were installed across Cambridge to enable people to donate to the Street Aid fund more easily, using their contactless debit or credit cards or smartphones.

Contactless points can be found in the window of the council’s customer service centre at Mandela House on Regent Street, on the reception of the Guildhall, and in Co-op stores on Mill Road, Chesterton Road and in Burwell. More contactless giving points will be coming soon.

Street Aid grants have made a real difference to people’s lives. People like Mark, who was homeless in Cambridge from 2011 and moved around hostels for years.

Mark worked hard to turn his life around and moved into his own flat. He had a talent for photography and wanted to use this to make a living. He was saving up for a computer, but needed help to make up the rest of the funds.

Mark was supported by Wintercomfort to apply for a Street Aid grant towards a computer so he could develop photos to sell and exhibit. Mark is now a Street Aid ambassador, helping to spread the word so more people can benefit.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “It’s fantastic that in just over two years 150 people have benefitted from Cambridge Street Aid grants. Street Aid has been a great success, and really has resonated with the people of Cambridge who want to help those on the streets turn a corner in their lives. 

“We hope the public will continue with their generous support so Street Aid can assist even more in the months and years to come.”

Michael O’Toole, CEO of Cambridgeshire Community Foundation which manages the Street Aid fund, said: “Street Aid has huge advantages for anyone wanting to help people on the streets of Cambridge. 

“By giving to Street Aid, your donation is combined with hundreds of others to make a meaningful sum – a grant of up to £750 – that will make a real difference to someone’s life. People are then supported by homelessness charities and community groups to apply for things that will help them to get off, or stay off, the streets.”

Later this year, Cambridge Street Aid will be launching its brand new volunteer programme, recruiting Street Aid Champions to help spread the word and grow the Street Aid fund.

The council works with local organisations that 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 have been provided during bad weather, with an additional 17 beds 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 are being 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.

As well as using the contactless donation points, it is also possible to donate to Cambridge Street Aid online by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/cambridgeshirecommunity/csa

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