Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has visited Jimmy’s Cambridge to hear from staff and the Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council, Councillor Richard Johnson, about the City’s coordinated plans to provide emergency shelter for the homeless and rough sleepers during times of severe weather.
The plans, known as Cambridge’s Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP), have been developed by the City in collaboration with key agencies engaged with the homeless and rough sleepers. During the visit, Mr Zeichner heard in detail about the current provision at Jimmy’s, as well as the growing pressures on demand.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “As the colder weather persists, I am pleased to know that Cambridge City Council has a well joined up set of plans to assist rough sleepers and the homeless when we see temperatures drop. The work being done by Jimmy’s, and others, to provide support and shelter is a lifeline to those that find themselves in precarious living situations. I am pleased that the City Council is championing their work through funding support and collaborative responses.”
“It goes without saying that few people would be comfortable seeing people sleeping on our streets at any time of the year but especially during winter. From the volume of letters and emails I get on this issue, I know that it is one of the biggest concerns for residents of the city. Cambridge is a city that cares and shows great generosity. I think that the increase of people living on our streets has become a national shame and one that this Government needs to get a grip on.”
The Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) plan is triggered when the Met Office forecasts a temperature low of zero or under for three successive days. Cambridge City goes beyond this however by making accommodation available in, for example, periods of prolonged heavy rain or high winds and during long periods of cold and damp weather. As winter progresses the Council also applies a common-sense approach, appreciating that long-term exposure to even mild winter weather will take a physical toll and so we may open provision at intervals to give a few days’ respite.
Barry Griffiths from Jimmy’s Cambridge said: “During the winter, Jimmy’s Cambridge focuses on providing emergency accommodation to a further 26 people over and above our usual provision. This year Jimmy’s Cambridge is proud to be in partnership with the Cambridge Salvation Army to provide Cambridge City Council’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP). Jimmy’s Cambridge is to use the Salvation Community Centre, Mill Road as our Severe Weather Shelter for the period 1 November 2018 until the 31 March 2019.”
Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council, said: “The City Council is a strong supporter of Jimmy’s, and we work very closely with them on a number of important projects that assist homeless people and rough sleepers in our city, including the emergency weather shelter provision we oversee with others during the winter months.
“The support the council provides Jimmy’s is matched – and more – by the sheer generosity of the Cambridge public, especially at this critical time of year. Whilst Cambridge, unfortunately, is known for its disparity of wealth, it is also known, for positive reasons, that the city’s residents are deeply caring and supportive of efforts to help those less fortunate.
“I encourage anyone who wishes to help the homeless to donate to the Cambridge Street Aid charity, supported by the City Council and others, including Jimmy’s. Cambridge Street Aid provides small grants to homelessness people and rough sleepers to help them turn a corner with their lives, providing them with clothing for a work interview, or computer equipment to start a training course.
“To donate to Cambridge Street Aid people can either text ‘CAMB16’ followed by the amount they wish to donate to 70070 (for example ‘CAMB16 £5’), or can do so online at http://www.cambscf.org.uk/cambridge-street-aid.html”