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More modular homes being built to tackle Cambridge homelessness





The makers of the original modular homes, New Meaning Foundation, have completed another trio of the units, with a further three currently in development at Waterbeach Barracks.

One of three completed New Meaning modular homes prior to removal to a secure location, March 2021
One of three completed New Meaning modular homes prior to removal to a secure location, March 2021

The challenge of homelessness in Cambridge has galvanised the community in the last two years. New Meaning built the first units from scratch at Waterbeach Barracks in 2019: they were installed on church land in the city last year. The New Meaning – supported by Allia and Jimmy’s Cambridge – model also provided work for the unemployed and those with personal experience of homelessness. Housebuilder Hill also responded to the crisis with its own design: its most recent units were installed on land in north Cambridge earlier this year.

Three of the New Meaning units have been built at Waterbeach Barracks by a new group of trainees, with funding from It Takes A City, a citywide partnership responding collaboratively to the issue of homelessness in Cambridge. The completed three units remain securely stored at a site on the barracks while they await a destination.

Allia Impact is working in partnership with It Takes a City Community Land Trust to identify a site on which to put a minimum of six of the new housing units.

Three further units are being built at the Barracks, partially supported by funding from Brookgate, The Cambridge building society and RG Carter.

A completed New Meaning modular home ready to be taken to a secure location, March 2021
A completed New Meaning modular home ready to be taken to a secure location, March 2021

Rob Carter, joint managing director from RG Carter, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important initiative to provide a safe, practical, and comfortable space for those most in need in the Cambridge community. As a business we are committed to building for the future; this collaborative project is a wonderful example of a sustainable and affordable solution that will no doubt pave the way in developing further innovation to help this much-needed local provision. This building vision will make a positive difference to peoples lives now and for many years to come.”

Carole Charter, chief commercial officer at The Cambridge, said: “We’re once again pleased to be supporting this innovative project and help homeless people in and around Cambridge have a home.

“While completion of the units is a little way off, I look forward to hearing the new residents are safely in their new homes.”

A New Meaning modular home being removed following completion at Waterbeach Barracks
A New Meaning modular home being removed following completion at Waterbeach Barracks

Completion is indeed some way off, not least because of a funding gap for the units. Allia Impact has appealed to the corporate sector to get involved.

Martin Clark, CEO of Allia Impact, said: “We are very pleased to be continuing to develop the idea of innovative low-cost housing solutions for those experiencing homelessness.

Brookgate, RG Carter and The Cambridge have really stepped up to the plate to get the fundraising for these three units off to a flying start and we are deeply grateful to them.

“The total cost of three units is £135,000 and we’re over halfway, with the £73,000 already donated.

Three completed modular homes awaiting installation at an as-yet-undecided Cambridge location
Three completed modular homes awaiting installation at an as-yet-undecided Cambridge location

“We’re looking for a few more generous local companies or individuals who want to help tackle homelessness this way to think about how much of the remaining £63,000 they can contribute.

“The units have started to be built by our wonderful partner, New Meaning Foundation, where young people learn modern construction skills, and we need to keep the funds flowing to enable them to keep them building.”

The units are designed to be used on temporary or interim sites for up to 10 years and can be moved and reused many times.

If you would like to donate, contact Martin at martin.clark@allia.org.uk.



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