Cambridge City Council and its partner agencies are again working together to provide warm, safe accommodation across the colder months for people who may otherwise be sleeping rough.
For the third year running, 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, managed by the local charity It Takes a City (ITaC).
People housed through the winter provision scheme can keep their room until suitable longer-term accommodation becomes available. During their stay, each resident is supported to agree a resettlement plan, to help them move on quickly into longer-term housing.
The scheme will be accepting new guests until the end of February 2024, while the service will stay open for residents already in the accommodation until 31 March, unless the planned closing date coincides with a period of severe weather, in which case it could stay open longer.
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, charitable donations and grant funding 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.
The winter provision forms part of a wide 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 rough sleeping behind them.
Many of the rough sleepers the council supports have significant physical and mental health challenges, or long-standing problems with trauma or addiction. Nobody can be compelled to accept or remain in accommodation offered to them, and some people who are used to being part of a street-based community find it very difficult to remain in accommodation off the streets.
However, rough sleepers in Cambridge do not need to beg for money to access a place to sleep, meals or bathroom facilities at any time of year – an offer of support is there for everyone once they have been verified by the local Street Outreach Team and they are ready to access it. Services are available free thanks to the network of organisations who form the Streets to Homes service in the city.
The council also has a new service called Team Around A Person, which works to build trusting relationships with repeat rough sleepers, in order to provide personalised support through individual plans, including for issues like mental ill-health or drug or alcohol dependency.
Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing and Homelessness, said: “I’m very pleased that we will again be working with It Takes A City and our other partners to provide secure, warm and welcoming accommodation for people across the winter months.
“Just as important as the accommodation itself is the opportunity this gives people to access personalised advice and support, which we hope will help people move on permanently from rough sleeping and into safe, longer-term accommodation.”
There are many ways residents can help rough sleepers in Cambridge 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/