New opportunities for Cambridge’s homeless population

Anthie Karravagelis 21 November 2011

Cambridge’s only emergency accommodation charity has just received a £3 million pound Government grant to build a new assessment centre offering 24 hour services. Jimmy’s Night Shelter on East Road was set up at 1995 and currently provides food, shelter, care and community to 18-65 year olds who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets. Jimmy’s also liaises with outside agencies such as St John’s Ambulance, Cambridge Drug Intervention Programme and the Street Outreach Team to help their guests find solutions to their problems.

The refurbishment will make these services available during the day and also include classes to teach guests how to prepare meals and run a home. In addition, 20 individual en suite bedrooms will be built.

However, the new assessment centre also marks the end of Jimmy’s direct access status, whereby a homeless person could just turn up and move in if there was space. People will now only be accommodated for a few weeks whilst they are assessed and then moved elsewhere. This approach is thought to lead to more sustainable lifestyles where people are given a chance to address their problems.

Mr Henry Brown, the Chief Executive of Jimmy’s Night Shelter, said: “We are hoping they will engage in services which will lead them to a life of independence”

Cambridge City Council estimates that there is an average of 6 people rough sleeping on any given night in Cambridge and has been working tirelessly with agencies such as Jimmy’s to reduce the number still further.

Member of Cambridge City Council Councillor George Owers says that although a lot of work is being done by local charities, “The current system is reliant on people getting help on their own accord and a more proactive approach is needed by those offering help.”

Anthie Karravagelis