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Cambridge Street Aid and Grand Arcade launch contactless giving point to help rough sleepers

News release from 19/02/2019

PEOPLE donating to Cambridge Street Aid, the charitable fund supported by Cambridge City Council which helps people on the streets to turn a corner, can now do so at a brand new contactless giving point in the Grand Arcade.

The new contactless giving point is being launched on Friday 22 February at the Grand Arcade shopping centre in Cambridge.

Last year, the first five contactless points were installed across Cambridge. The brand new terminal in the Grand Arcade joins others 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.

Contactless giving points enable people to donate to the Street Aid fund more easily, using their 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 150 grants totalling more than £39,000 to give people the support, accommodation and employment assistance they need to help them get off, and stay off, the streets.

It was established to give anyone wishing to help vulnerable people on the streets of Cambridge an alternative to handing over cash directly. Every single penny donated to the fund by residents, businesses and visitors in Cambridge go towards individual grants of up to £750 to help people on the streets.

Examples of how grants have so far been used include:

  • To pay for a health and safety course and qualification so a formerly homeless man can get a construction job
  • To pay for safety boots and protective equipment so a previously homeless man can start a manual job
  • To pay for white goods and furniture for a formerly homeless man moving into a new home
  • To provide a travel fund for homeless and vulnerably housed people to attend appointments to help improve their lives and engage with services they need
  • To provide funds to help a woman 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.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “It’s great news that people can now donate to Street Aid when out shopping in Cambridge. 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.

“Street Aid’s partnership with the Grand Arcade will make it even easier for people to help make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Rhoda Joseph, General Manager for Grand Arcade, said: “We are pleased to be supporting Street Aid in their continuing role of helping the homeless within Cambridge.”

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. Your donation is pooled with hundreds of others, then organisations supporting homeless people in Cambridge work with them to find the best way to use a grant to help them get off, and stay off, the streets.”

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