In 2018, Centre for Cities, a think tank, declared Cambridge the most unequal city in the UK. In the shadow of its famous university many people are living rough - and a new housing initiative aims to start helping to address that.
Cambridge is about 50 miles north of London and, in addition to its world famous university, is the epicentre of the high-technology 'Silicon Fen' with industries such as software and bioscience and many start-up companies born out of the university. It's also a notoriously expensive place to live and the high cost of living has pushed many people onto the street.
Next week, a new micro-housing initiative will be launched. It has been led by the charity Allia (which supports development projects with a positive impact), working in partnership with homeless charity Jimmy’s Cambridge and the New Meaning Foundation.
The first development comprises just six micro homes, installed on land belonging to a local church, and the properties have been designed to be easily relocated to another free site whenever necessary. Each micro house comes with all the basic essentials: a fitted kitchen, living space, bathroom, separate bedroom and washing machine. Residents can stay for as long as they need and will receive onsite support from Jimmy's.
“One of the main challenges facing people who are homeless is finding affordable accommodation together with the support to help deal with the causes of what led them to sleeping rough on the streets in the first place,” said Mark Allan, chief executive of Jimmy’s Cambridge.
“This project offers both. Six new affordable homes backed up with a team of committed, caring staff and volunteers with expertise in supporting people deal with their addictions, build their self-worth and tackle their mental health difficulties, reconnect with estranged family, find employment, and so much more. These new homes will change people’s lives.”
“We hope this will be the start of more such innovative projects until there is enough housing for all who need it,” said Allia's Martin Clark.
The homes were funded by grants and donations from public and private sector companies and were built by workers at the New Meaning Foundation, which provides employment for people with experience of homelessness.