County council to launch £2.2m-a-year service to tackle homeless crisis

Homeless person near River Nene in Wisbech

Rough sleepers and homeless people across Cambridgeshire will be given a chance to improve their lives as part of a £2.2 million-a-year service launched by the county council. - Credit: Kim Taylor

Rough sleepers and homeless people across Cambridgeshire will be helped as part of a £2.2 million-a-year service. 

Cambridgeshire County Council aim to provide a county-wide approach that supports and improves the lives of those most in need. 

Specific services will be offered in different parts of the county, including Fenland where work is underway to improve existing support and accommodation, as well as accessing training.   

Councillor Richard Howitt, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s adult and health committee, said: “This is vitally important work because without these services, many people’s lives would be cut short. 

Services to be offered include flats and shared houses to give individuals a stable place to live and enable them to make choices and plans for the future. 

This initiative aims to give rough sleepers and homeless people, such as in Fenland, a chance to build their own independence while still having access to help. 

Tailored support to those dealing with issues such as domestic violence and mental health problems will also be available. 

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“I am assured everyone affected will get individual support to continue to move from homelessness towards living a settled life with a roof above their head,” Cllr Howitt said. 

“This is a move away from a reliance on large hostels to smaller more homelike settings where people can have a sense of belonging.  

“It’s important we see the big picture on this and understand the toll that homelessness can take on people and local communities, and provide ways for people to move on with their lives.” 

The county council wants to improve access to support for groups with specialist needs who have previously struggled to access services, including homeless females and LGBTQ+ groups. 

Contracts to run the new models will begin from April. 

The Ferry Project will run the model for Fenland, the Riverside Group for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, and Housing First across all areas. 

Mike Todd-Jones, executive councillor for housing on Cambridge City Council, said: “The key to ending rough sleeping is not just to provide a home but to support people to manage their tenancies. 

“This will help enable people to overcome the sometimes severe difficulties that have caused them to become homeless.   

“A home of their own, and help when it’s needed, is what most rough sleepers say will help them break their cycle of repeat homelessness.”