AS the weather turns colder, Cambridge City Council and its partner agencies are providing additional support to people who would otherwise be sleeping rough in the city.
This year, 20 individual rooms with ensuite facilities are on offer for people who need them, through the council and the charity It Takes a City (ITaC), at a single site, close to Cambridge city centre.
The project has been funded by a combination of a Homeless Link grant, a Cambridge City Council grant, and donations to ITaC – with the accommodation made available by CATS Global Schools in Cambridge. Volunteers from ITaC and the Cambridge Churches Homelessness Project will help run the project alongside professional support workers. Hot meals will be provided three times a day, some cooked on site by volunteers.
Previously, the council and its partners provided emergency accommodation in the winter through SWEP (the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol). Rough sleepers were provided with a space in a communal sleeping area to escape from the cold.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, the council and its partners have developed better models for supporting rough sleepers, and reducing the number of people on the streets.
As well as aiming to provide accommodation that minimises the risk of COVID transmission, the work during the pandemic has demonstrated what can be achieved by providing a stable, sustained place to stay, alongside intensive resettlement support.
Thanks to additional funding, an improved model for winter accommodation has been developed. The model is similar in approach to the housing provided during the first 15 months of the pandemic.
Each resident will be supported to agree a resettlement plan, so that they can move on quickly from the project into longer-term housing.
People looking to access this winter’s accommodation will need to have a local connection to the city and be verified as rough sleeping by the Cambridge Street Outreach Team.
The project forms part of a much wider network of services offered by the council and partners in Cambridge to help people find and sustain accommodation, and to access the support they need to leave the streets for good.
Cllr Mike Todd-Jones, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “The steps we have taken with our partners this winter mean that anyone taking advantage of a bed will also be offered support and advice to address their specific needs, and to help them move away from rough sleeping and into accommodation.”
“Since the start of the pandemic partners across the city have been working non-stop to provide safe accommodation for people who may otherwise be sleeping rough, and it is great that the lessons we have learned are now helping to provide rounded support and warm, safe rooms for so many during the winter.”
There are many ways residents can help rough sleepers including by donating to charity, volunteering their time, providing employment opportunities for former rough sleepers, or even letting their homes out through the council’s social lettings agency Townhall Lettings.
However, there are three things that Cambridge residents can do to help in particular:
- Report if someone is sleeping rough via Streetlink by calling 0300 500 0914 or visiting www.streetlink.org.uk
- Donate to Cambridge Street Aid, the charitable fund helping people to get off, and stay off, the streets. This can be done via one of the many contactless giving points in the city or via the online giving page: www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/cambridgeshirecommunity/csa
- Visit the Street Support website for further details of the services operating in the city: https://streetsupport.net/cambridge/
SWEP was delivered by local organisations Jimmy’s Cambridge, Riverside Care and Support and was augmented by the Cambridge Churches Homelessness Project (CCHP), who provided additional communal sleep sites. We remain grateful to them for the support they provided – and continue to provide – to support people facing homelessness.