Partnership tackles homelessness in Cambridgeshire – creating new homes and job opportunities for local people
A team of organisations in Cambridgeshire have joined forces to provide six new homes for people who are homeless.
Places for People Living Plus is working in partnership with Fenland District Council, charities Allia, The Ferry Project, and New Meaning Foundation – a local social enterprise which employs ex-homeless people to create homes using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Their efforts not only support people in need of accommodation, but the construction process will also engage and provide employment to people who have previously been homeless.
Allia provided a comprehensive project delivery service coordinating the planning process, procurement of the housing units and site preparation, based on the experience of delivering a similar scheme in Cambridge in 2020 which has proven popular and successful for former rough sleepers.
The team is now on site following Places for People Living Plus’ successful application to the government’s Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme (RSAP) – a £433m programme which aims to deliver up to 6,000 units of supported move-on accommodation for rough sleepers over the course of the current parliament.
A condition of the RSAP funding was that developments were complete by March 2022, something the partners were able to do thanks to swift decision making, and the use of MMC.
Andy Lomas, managing director of Places for People Living Plus explained: “We are fortunate to be working in collaboration with brilliant, likeminded partners who share a collective commitment to tackling the cycle of homelessness – not just creating homes for those currently living on the streets but helping those who are at risk or have previously been homeless by engaging them in the construction process.
“Located at Mill Close, the ‘Jubilee Place’ development is a great example of the power of partnership; the local authority’s priority in addressing homelessness and land availability, plus the use of MMC which has allowed us to meet the timings set by RSAP. I am thrilled that we are now well on the way to making this development a reality and hope that we can generate a successful blueprint for other councils as they too address homelessness.”
The homes are being created by local people who have previously been homeless or are unemployed and at risk of being pulled back into the cycle of rough sleeping. The structures are being created by Cambridge-based New Meaning Foundation, a registered charity, which builds small, modular homes called SPACE Micro-homes in its workshop at Waterbeach Barracks.
Here, ex-homeless and unemployed people build the homes, gaining experience and skills in construction. John Evans, New Meaning Foundation Charity founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted to be engaged with likeminded partners as we create these homes – spaces which will allow people to regain a sense of place and privacy whilst they rebuild their confidence and ability to rebuild their lives.”
The energy efficient properties are accredited by the British Board of Agrement and are BBA Agrément Certified. This is a mark of excellence based on rigorous national and European standards that validate a construction product’s specialist formulation, capability and uniqueness and ensures the properties meet key elements of British Building Regulations (England and Wales). Further benefits will then come from the
final fit out of the homes, which will, with the external landscaping, be undertaken by Wisbech based charity, The Ferry Project. The charity gives people the skills they need to enable them to live independently; employees at the centre will learn new skills as they upcycle furniture for Jubilee Place.
The project is the latest commitment by Fenland District Council as it addresses homelessness. Last year, the local authority secured £198,000 to continue providing interim accommodation and support for the district's most vulnerable following a successful bid to the Government's Next Steps Accommodation Programme.
Councillor Samantha Hoy is Fenland's portfolio holder for housing and added: "Our priority is to rehome people into safe, long-term housing and ultimately prevent the most vulnerable in our society from ever returning to rough sleeping. Working in partnership with inspiring, likeminded organisations will help us achieve that.”
Places for People Living Plus is part of Places for People, an affordable homes-led placemaker which owns or manages more than 219,000 homes across the UK.