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Cambridge City Council finds accommodation for more than 60 rough sleepers during coronavirus outbreak

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More than 60 rough sleepers have been found accommodation by Cambridge City Council since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cambridge City Council has found accomodation for more than 60 rough sleepers during coronavirus outbreak
Cambridge City Council has found accomodation for more than 60 rough sleepers during coronavirus outbreak

The council had announced its intention to provide somewhere safe for all people sleeping rough during this crisis, and to work with them to try to ensure they do not return to the streets when this period is over.

Council properties, as well as housing association properties, hotel rooms and private accommodation have been identified to meet the demand.

Proactive work is also being done with organisations who support homeless people to ensure they receive the support they need.

Individual requirements, such as being close to drug and alcohol treatment services or familiar surroundings, are being tailored for with the offers of accommodation, as many of the rough sleepers the council works with have significant physical and mental health challenges or long-standing addiction problems.

But the council has stressed that nobody can be compelled to accept or remain in accommodation offered to them, but the street outreach team will work hard to persuade them to do so.

Cllr Richard Johnson, executive councillor for housing, said: “We are aware that, despite our accommodation offer, there will still be people sleeping on the streets of Cambridge, as there will be in other towns and cities throughout the country.

“Cambridge’s concerned and committed public are already providing outstanding assistance, with many people helping out to cook and deliver food and provide other essential items to the hotels, hostels and other temporary accommodation we have secured for our rough sleepers.

“Many others are donating to charities like Cambridge Street Aid, Jimmy’s and Wintercomfort.

“Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper can report their whereabouts using the Street Link or the local Street Support websites and apps. We will follow up every report.

“In the meantime, it is important for people to think twice before helping someone stay on the street by giving money directly to someone begging, which is why Cambridge Street Aid is such a great alternative.”

Since the start of the crisis, people have come forward who had been in insecure or temporary accommodation that may have ended due to loss of work.

The council is also working to keep residents from potentially losing their homes using the new government guidance to landlords instructing them not to make evictions.

Alongside the emergency work, more than £100,000 has been donated to Cambridge Street Aid since it was first launched in late 2016.

It has so far funded more than 260 grants for people sleeping rough in Cambridge to provide help for them to get off and stay off the streets.

The charitable fund has helped rough sleepers and former rough sleepers in numerous ways, with grants of up to £750 including towards:

  • Paying for courses to help people’s employment prospects
  • Helping towards clothing for people to wear for new jobs
  • Transport and technology to help attend job interviews and work
  • Advance rent on new accommodation
  • Start-up costs for setting up small business
  • Passport application costs
  • Basic furnishings for new accommodation

Cllr Johnson said: “The public’s response to Cambridge Street Aid since we launched over three years ago has been fantastic and reflects the desire of so many Cambridge people to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

“The great thing about Cambridge Street Aid is that it goes directly to help meet the needs of people who have experienced circumstances most us can’t really comprehend, and to help them move on.

“At this difficult and troubling time for so many people, if you can donate to Cambridge Street Aid online, by standing order or by cheque, you’ll know that you are really making a difference to the lives of vulnerable people who want to turn their lives around.”

To make a donation to Cambridge Street Aid, which is managed by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, visit justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/cambridgeshirecommunity/csa

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