More than £5,000 donated to our Wintercomfort appeal
Generous readers have donated more than £5,000 to Cambridge Independent's homelessness campaign so far.
Since launching our £10,000 appeal in November, we have been swamped with cash donations from individuals, businesses and organisations for homelessness charity Wintercomfort.
This money will help provide food, hot showers, training and welfare support for homeless people in Cambridge, offering a lifeline to the most vulnerable ?in society.
The charity's communications co-ordinator, Simon Pickering, praised our readers and the community for their support both financially and by helping to raise the charity's profile.
He said:"Wintercomfort is a Cambridge-based charity and it's great the community has come together to support it.
"Sometimes people don't know how to engage with the homeless population and Wintercomfort acts as a bit of a funnel to get people engaged and activated.
"Since the launch of the campaign we've had more people contact us or turn up to offer their support. We're here working for the Cambridge community and people are now seeing the work we've been doing."
The increasing number of people in the city with nowhere to live is highlighted by the surge in demand at Wintercomfort.
With more men and women turning up at its Victoria Avenue premises, the charity provides breakfast each day for more than 70 homeless people.
Mr Pickering said that the problem was escalating at an alarming rate, as Cambridge has higher rates of homelessness than places with a similar demographic, including Oxford and Brighton.
"We're seeing more homeless women in the city, with the number doubling in the past 12 months,he said."Now, 15 per cent of our service users are women compared with seven per cent last year."
Services manager James Martin added:"Within the context of Cambridge, when you're 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."
The money raised will help Wintercomfort cope with this increased demand during the colder months, ensuring those sleeping rough in Cambridge can find a warm place to go.
Over the festive period, the charity provided dinner to 64 people on Christmas Day and more than 70 on Boxing Day.
Looking to the future, it hopes to do more to help its users get back into employment and training.
Its not-for-profit social enterprises already provide job opportunities and generate income to help support its services, and in 2017, Wintercomfort hopes to set up a bursary fund to get people into construction work and support those on other work placements.
"We've got a really talented team here who are working hard to support our service users. We want to be able to help more people get the support they need,added Mr Pickering.
You can donate to our Wintercomfort appeal either by cheque, made payable to Wintercomfort and sent to Overstream House, Victoria Avenue, Cambridge CB4 1EG, or donate at wintercomfort.org.uk/cambridgeindependent.