WORK to continue tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in Cambridge is set to be boosted through longer-term funding to provide safe winter accommodation, and through a number of grants which are set to be approved by Cambridge City Council.
Subject to approval of the council’s budget in February, £50,000 from its Homelessness Prevention Grant budget will now be allocated each year for the next three years to procure and manage safe winter accommodation for rough sleepers.
Under the council’s winter provision, since 2021-22 it has provided 20 safe and secure individual ensuite rooms across the colder months to people with local connections who had been sleeping rough. People using this service can stay as long as it takes to find them more permanent accommodation, and are offered a variety of support to help them move on with their lives.
Approval for a further three years’ funding for this winter provision will provide rough sleepers and service providers with additional security, allow for the development of service standards and enable providers to seek additional funding streams.
Previously, the council funded emergency winter accommodation (known as SWEP) for rough sleepers only during periods of particularly bad weather, rather than throughout the winter. This emergency service is still available during periods of severe winter weather to any rough sleepers, not just those with local connections, even if they are not eligible for or do not wish to take up one of the 20 ensuite ‘winter provision’ rooms.
In addition next year, £275,000 will be provided by the council in Homelessness Prevention Grants which will go to a variety of voluntary and community groups working on projects tackling all forms of homelessness in Cambridge, subject to approval of the council’s budget in February.
The groups set to receive funding for 2023-24 are:
- Cambridge and District Citizens Advice Bureau for support, advice and representation around housing and debt
- Cambridge Cyrenians to provide support for single people over 45 to access and maintain accommodation, and to provide accommodation for single people with local connections
- CHS Group for employment advice and coaching; plus supported housing for young homeless parents
- Cambridge Women’s Aid to support victims of domestic abuse including providing safe accommodation to women and their children
- Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre to help women in unsecure or homeless pathways to reduce the risk of exploitation
- Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to support the work of the Cambridge Street Aid charitable fund
- Centre 33 for homeless and housing support for people aged 13-25
- Hope Into Action UK to provide support for four homes with nine bed spaces for single men and women
- It Takes A City, including to provide coordination of community-wide groups and initiatives to develop new solutions to homelessness; provide support for rough sleepers in private accommodation; plus additional support services
- Jimmy’s Cambridge to provide support for residents of 22 modular homes
- Wintercomfort for the Homeless for an employment and learning service
Total bids for funding came to £453,000 – when making assessments of grant bids, consideration was given to the strategic and operational value of proposed services, and whether they were thought to duplicate or overlap with other existing services.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, the council and its partners have developed different models for supporting people at risk of homelessness or sleeping rough or are vulnerably housed, and reducing the number of people on the streets.
The winter provision and homelessness prevention grants programmes form part of wider work by the council and partners in Cambridge to help people find and sustain accommodation, and to access the support they need.
The council’s Single Homelessness Service aims to help people at risk of sleeping rough find stable accommodation and help with settling in, continued support and paying rent. The Town Hall Lettings Scheme allows people threatened with homelessness, and who have connections to Cambridge, to find shared, self-contained or family accommodation. For more about the council’s work to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping visit www.cambridge.gov.uk/homeless-people
Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “People sleeping rough or at risk of finding themselves homeless are among the most vulnerable members of our community – which is why we remain committed to finding them safe accommodation and help with any issues they may have.
“We work closely with many wonderful partner organisations and are delighted that through these grants we will once again be able to help fund these important projects, which have such a positive impact on people’s lives.”
There are many ways residents can help rough sleepers including:
- Reporting if someone is sleeping rough via Streetlink by calling 0300 500 0914 or visiting www.streetlink.org.uk
- Donating 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
- Visiting the Street Support website for further details of the services operating in the city: https://streetsupport.net/cambridge/
Finding 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