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First Cambridge operation for homelessness patrol





Under One Sky Cambridge making connections among the city’s homeless population. Picture: Jeremy Peters
Under One Sky Cambridge making connections among the city’s homeless population. Picture: Jeremy Peters

“My future wish is to start work and have a family,” said Daryl.

This was one of the messages from a homeless person as 15 members of the Cambridge Buddhist Centre, supported by four from the Under One Sky charity in London, took to the cold Cambridge streets on Saturday (January 25).

Over three hours the Under One Sky Cambridge team helped about 30 people, providing them with hats, gloves, socks and underwear, toiletries and bivvy bags, hot drinks, cereal bars and gift cards for a tent, mobile phone or sleeping bag.

The group split into three teams. One team covered the Mill Road and central station area, the second covered Chesterton, Abbey and Newmarket Road, and the third team – including photographer Jeremy Peters – started at Park Street and covered much of the city centre.

“We came across homeless people at Park Street, Round Church, Sidney Street, Market Square, St Edward’s Passage, Regent Street and Lion Yard, among others,” said Jeremy.

“We hadn’t announced locations or our presence. We simply looked for people and struck up conversations, to connect. We had the benefit of Under One Sky’s experience of helping over 2,000 homeless people in London in this way. Through the generosity of them and others we had trolleys fully of useful and comforting items.”

All team members said they had made positive connections.

“Personally, I was struck by the friendliness and appreciation of the people we met, most of whom were living on the streets, for whatever reason,” said Jeremy. “We built trust with them and helped them tell their stories and express their wishes for the future. We were also heartened to see how they were not greedy for possessions, declining items they didn’t need or offering to pass them on to their friends who did need them – new boxer shorts for example.

“I am aware that there are many ordinary people who help those who’ve found themselves homeless. We were just doing the same – in our case distributing basic things and showing that we care.”

Co-ordinator Deane Banning said: “More important than the gear we provided was that we met some incredible characters, heard some tragic stories, and made some real connections. It was an inspiring and humbling experience for all.”

Jeremy added: “We will be doing this in Cambridge on a regular basis.”

The next tour of duty is in March, meanwhile you can help with fundraising here.

Meet the Under One Sky homeless action group ready to go on to the streets of Cambridge. Picture: Jeremy Peters
Meet the Under One Sky homeless action group ready to go on to the streets of Cambridge. Picture: Jeremy Peters


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