Tackling the tragedy of rough sleeping

No-one should be forced to sleep on the streets. Everyone should have a safe home.

If you want to help end homelessness, this page provides links to key local resources, opportunities for volunteering, local and national news and updates on our campaigns to make sure everyone in Cambridge has a roof over their heads.

(Pictured: Cllrs Cheney Payne and Jamie Dalzell outside modular homes designed to provide supported living for rough sleepers).

The National Situation

From 2015 to 2019, rough sleeping soared by 31%. In response to the ongoing pandemic, the nationwide ‘Everyone In’ initiative reversed this, with a reduction in rough sleeping of 37% in a single year.

This was the result of a huge effort by volunteer organisations and local Councils across the country, using an additional £224m funding from national government to provide emergency accommodation and support.

This work is turning the tide on the homeless crisis in the UK and it must be sustained. However the national government is currently looking to cut these commitments.

We support the Kerslake Commission’s interim report which calls on the Johnson government to protect this increased spending to both prevent homelessness and to provide emergency accommodation wherever and whenever it is needed.

The Vagrancy Act

Rough sleeping is actually illegal in the UK.

The law is archaic and approaching its 200th anniversary. It should be repealed, immediately.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has been leading the campaign in Westminster to scrap the Vagrancy Act. Even the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick agrees, but the government continues to drag its feet.

If you agree with us, you can join our national campaign and write to your local MP to demand they support the campaign in parliament; Crisis provides details and template letters.

Homelessness in Cambridge

Our city has a proud history of supporting homeless members of our community with established charities like Jimmy’s and Winter Comfort working closely with our City Council to build a pathway that prevents and combats homelessness.

However, we now face a perfect storm - with the potential for a winter Covid wave, low rates of vaccination among the homeless, hotels previously used for emergency accommodation now reopening for business, and a worsening housing crisis.

As winter approaches, we are calling on the City Council to broaden its safety net by:

  • Ensuring every rough sleeper is offered shelter this winter.
  • Underwriting the funding needed for our homelessness team - they currently depend on government funding.

Looking at the big picture, we need to be doing much more to prevent people becoming homeless - and to help those who already are with whatever might make it difficult for them to hold tenancies.

The Cambridge Liberal Democrats have consistently pushed for a broader approach to tackling the tragedy of rough sleeping - including calling for a Charter for Rough Sleepers to promote community-wide understanding and a shared vision. Lib Dem councillors Tim Bick and Nichola Harrison wrote a report on rough sleeping in Cambridge and how we might do better - you can read it by clicking here.

 

Useful links
City Council Resources:

https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/homeless-people

https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/services-for-rough-sleepers-and-single-homeless-people

Kerslake Commission Report: https://www.commissiononroughsleeping.org/latest-news/

Layla Moran MP’s work on vagrancy act:

https://www.laylamoran.com/layla_moran_leads_cross_party_group_urging_government_to_repeal_heartless_vagrancy_act_in_queen_s_speech

Crisis – email your MP on vagrancy act (including example email):

https://campaigns.crisis.org.uk/page/43616/action/1?locale=en-GB

Cllr Tim Bick & Nichola Harrison’s report on rough sleeping in Cambridge:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sym-rbTO5UCC9lmQjeiNjzUWYwycPBQ2/view