CAMBRIDGE City Council and its partner agencies are working together to provide warm, safe accommodation this winter for people who may otherwise be sleeping rough in Cambridge.
This year, 20 individual rooms, all of them with their own ensuite facilities, are available for people who need them at a single site close to the city centre, through the charity It Takes a City (ITaC).
People housed through the winter provision scheme will be able to retain their room until suitable longer-term accommodation becomes available. Each resident will be supported to agree a resettlement plan, so that they can move on quickly from the project into longer-term housing.
The scheme will be accepting new residents until the end of February 2023, while the service will then stay open for residents already in the accommodation until the end of March, unless there is a period of severe weather during March.
Beds are available to anyone who has been verified as sleeping rough by the Cambridge Street Outreach team, and who are locally connected to Cambridge. The winter provision is being funded by a combination of a council grant, and charitable donations to ITaC.
The landlord of the main Winter Provision site is CATS Global Schools. Volunteers from ITaC and the Cambridge Churches Homelessness Project will help to run the project including providing hot meals to residents.
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 during particularly bad conditions with the expectation they would vacate the premises when weather improved.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, the council and its partners have developed different models for supporting people sleeping rough or are vulnerably housed, and reducing the number of people on the streets.
The Winter Provision 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.
Many of the rough sleepers the council works with have significant physical and mental health challenges, or long-standing addiction problems. Nobody can be compelled to accept or remain in accommodation offered to them, with some people who are used to being part of a street-based community finding it very difficult to remain in accommodation off the streets.
Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “Following the successful results we saw from providing this secure accommodation for people across the winter last year, we are continuing with a similar approach this winter. Our approach has demonstrated the good work that can be achieved by partners, by providing a stable, sustained place for people to stay, alongside intensive resettlement support.
“Anyone taking advantage of a bed through the Winter Provision will be offered support and advice to address their individual needs, and to help them move away from rough sleeping and into safe, longer-term accommodation.”
There are many ways residents can help rough sleepers including:
- 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/
- Find out more about the help available in the city for single homeless people and people sleeping rough at www.cambridge.gov.uk/services-for-rough-sleepers