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Help us to raise £10,000 for city's homeless charity Wintercomfort

By Gemma Gardner

Wintercomfort provides vital services for Cambridge's rough sleepers
Wintercomfort provides vital services for Cambridge's rough sleepers

With numbers sleeping rough 'growing weekly', the Cambridge Independent launches new campaign

Up to 20 additional people a week are sleeping rough on Cambridge’s streets.

The growing problem means that there are now hundreds in the city without a home, with some spending months living in tents. And this is why today Cambridge Independent is launching a campaign to raise £10,000 for homelessness charity Wintercomfort.

It provides food, a hot shower, training and welfare services, offering a vital lifeline to the most vulnerable in society.

Its not-for-profit social enterprises provide employment opportunities and generate income to help support its services.

And it has achieved some amazing success, as we shall highlight during our campaign.

But it also faces a major challenge.

The increasing number of people in Cambridge with nowhere to live is highlighted by the surge in demand at Wintercomfort, with more and more homeless men and women turning up at its Victoria Avenue premises.

It provides breakfast each day for more than 70 homeless people – and communications co-ordinator Simon Pickering says the problem is increasing at an alarming rate.

“I would say we see between 15 and 20 new people a week who are sleeping rough,” he said. “Then we have our regulars.

“On a typical morning we welcome 70 people through the door. It’s a combination of people who are rough sleeping or people who we describe as vulnerably housed.”

The high cost of housing in Cambridge has an impact, but the main reasons for homelessness, said services manager James Martin, are still “a combination of severe debt, relationship breakdowns, unemployment or a sudden loss of employment, and people find themselves in a difficult predicament”.

He added: “Within the context of Cambridge, when you are privately renting, that can happen a lot quicker because of the price of the rent. You can quickly run out of money, and if someone has a drink or drug problem then the whole situation just spirals. Suddenly people find themselves on the street.”

Ashley Bramwell, 25, has been homeless for two years. He is living in a tent four or five days each week.

“I would say, and from what I see, there are 500 or more homeless in this city,” he said.

And as the weather turns colder, there will be more people looking to Winter-comfort for help.

Our £10,000 Christmas appeal will help meet some of the charity’s additional costs.

Mr Pickering added: “All the money raised from our appeal goes back into the welfare services to allow us to cope with the extra demand.”

Paul Brackley, the editor of Cambridge Independent, said: “The scale of the homeless problem in Cambridge is alarming – and it appears to be growing. In what is generally considered an affluent city, it is frankly shocking to witness people sleeping rough.

“But much of the problem is also unseen – with many ‘sofa surfing’ at friends’ houses or relying on temporary accommodation.

“The launch of our £10,000 Wintercomfort Christmas Appeal is designed to help the charity meet the growing demand for its excellent services at the coldest time of year.

“The charity provides important welfare services that are hugely valued by its users, but it goes further, providing learning and development and employment opportunities.

“By making a donation, you can help Wintercomfort help more people to get back on their feet.”

How you can help

The £10,000 we’re aiming to raise will help Wintercomfort cope with the increased demand during the colder months, ensuring those sleeping rough in Cambridge can still find a warm place to go, get a cooked breakfast and gain the invaluable advice and support needed to get their lives on track.

The best way to donate is by cheque, made payable to Wintercomfort and sent to Overstream House, Victoria Avenue, Cambridge CB4 1EG.

Alternatively, you can donate online at wintercomfort.org.uk/donate.php.

Please mark donations: Cambridge Independent.


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