Cambridge Street Aid

Cambridge Street Aid has two aims.  The first is to help people get off, and stay off, the streets.  The second is to give donors an alternative to handing money straight to people – a practice which, however understandable in some cases, runs a high risk of making things worse rather than better. 

Starting only in December 2016, Street Aid has come to be warmly welcomed by agencies and local people as the ‘go-to’ fund for small grants that make a big impact on people’s lives. 

Part of the success of Street Aid is that it doesn’t preach: we don’t try to tell you what you can and can’t do with your own money.  All Street Aid asks you to do is think - and then decide for yourself.  We hope you’ll decide to donate to us, but as we say:  “It’s your choice:  Loose change or real change”.

As a way to help people, Street Aid has two big advantages.  First, it takes away the need to decide which of your favourite Cambridge charities or organisations to donate to.  Street Aid is supported by all the major agencies in Cambridge helping people on the street.  All of these bid to Street Aid for grants, so to give to Street Aid is to give to all.  But the second, and best, advantage is that Street Aid doesn’t fund the organisation.  It funds individuals.  And because all Street Aid’s administration costs are covered outside of the fund, you can be sure that every penny you donate goes to helping someone.

Applications

Individuals must be referred by an organisation (voluntary sector or local authority) that has assessed the individual’s circumstances and can verify that they are in need of immediate assistance that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Grants of up to £750 will be paid to the referring agent to apply the money for the purpose agreed. The Fund will not normally be used for crisis support. It is to offer planned longer, strategic help that will bring about change. Referring agents are therefore invited to consider the medium-long term needs of their clients and make applications accordingly, ensuring that the items in the application tie into a plan for the individual. However, support workers are encouraged to be inventive in what they apply for, the core criterion being that the grant must help someone get off, or stay off, the streets. The request must be for a person that is a resident of, or has links to, Cambridge City.

The fund has a limit of one award per recipient in any six-month period and no more than two awards in an 18 month period (timed from the date of the first award) – other than in exceptional circumstances. Please note that unsuccessful applications will not be counted towards this total.

Previous Awards

With a growing number of grants now made, we thought you might be interested in knowing what your money has been spent on, and what your kindness has achieved for people. (The names of some people have been changed).

Brian

“I can’t thank you enough for the kindness you have shown toward me.  It makes me realise people do care”.

Brian was in Jimmy’s [the homelessness shelter on East Road, Cambridge] and had a long background of being on the street.  Brian has never had a lot of money, and although he manages what he has well, he has not been able to afford things like new shoes, a winter coat and decent trousers.  His support worker told us his ‘wardrobe was sparse and inadequate, with holes in his shoes, only a light summer coat and worn-out trousers’.   His grant helped buy new clothes, but it bought him something else:  his dignity.  As Brian put it:

“For the past three years I have been volunteering at Addenbrookes Hospital and some of the money I received helped toward new clothing that made me feel more confident in that role”.

Connor

Having lost his first council tenancy, Connor was on the streets of Cambridge for many years.  With a chronic drink habit, his life was frequently out of control.  In and out of the City’s hostels, sometimes he had a place to stay; sometimes not.

In the end it was Connor who decided his life needed to change.  After a number of false starts, by a great act of will Connor stopped drinking and, with the help of his support worker, successfully applied for one of 40 council properties put aside each year for people with a background like Conner’s. 

By providing him with some nice new carpet and a few essentials, Connor’s Street Aid grant helped him to get over those first critical months when the challenges of setting up and looking after a new home and adapting to a sometimes-solitary life away from the streets can sometimes undermine the desire to make a change. 

Connor is very proud of his new home and his support worker says that he is managing it very well.  He says that it now feels like his ‘forever home’.

Other awards

Cambridge Street Aid has helped 12 people using Wintercomfort (Cambridge's day centre for people on the street) to gain health and safety qualifications to allow them to work on building sites and find their own accommodation.

We’ll now be updating this page frequently with news about Street Aid and the people you have helped.  Make sure to keep on visiting!

To donate

Donations to the Cambridge Street Aid Fund are welcome and can be done in one of three ways

By text - Text CAMB16 £3 to 70070 to donate £3 to Cambridge Street Aid.  Please reply to the  Gift Aid text – as adding Gift Aid means we  can increase the value of your donation by 25% 

By justgiving.com -Visit the Fund page

By cheque - send cheque, payable to Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, to Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, Hangar One, The Airport, Newmarket Road, Cambridge CB5 8TG

New for 2018

New for 2018

If 2017 was about laying Street Aid's foundations, in 2018 we are planning the following:

  • We'll be promoting Street Aid: Halfway to Home, our scheme which will match-fund any savings a person with a street background might have made toward a deposit or advance rent, or match any payments they may have made to bring down arrears so they can keep their current home or get themselves into a position to bid for social housing.

Example:  Someone in a Cambridge hostel is ready to move on into their own accommodation, but the costs are high  They have saved or borrowed £500 for the rent in advance, but it’s going to take months before they can save enough for the deposit.  A Halfway To Home grant will match the £500 they have saved, helping them to get a place of their own in half the time.

  • Look out for our contactless 24/7 giving points appearing around town from early summer.
  • Come and meet us as we promote Street Aid in shopping malls and community events throughout summer.
  • Email us at StreetAid@cambridge.gov.uk if you want to put on an event, run a marathon or ride a unicycle to Edinburgh (while juggling) in support of Street Aid. We can help you a T-shirt and other promotional material.