Something For Everyone
Whatever your time availability, there are lots of ways you can get involved to help the homeless community in Cambridge, through CHOP and beyond.
We at CHOP offer a number of ways to get involved. Once a week we host a pop-up café at Wintercomfort, which you can help by baking some goods to bring along or coming along to help run the café and engage with the guests. Other outreach-focussed activities include one-off volunteering days with the Cambridge Cyrenians (such as painting, decorating and gardening), organising soup kitchens, and collections/distributions of donations such as winter clothes. You can keep in touch with all of these – as well as our fundraising events and talks – by joining our mailing list and/or by following our Facebook page, as well as checking the “What’s Going On” page. You can also join our partner society Streetbite, a group of student volunteers who do rounds of the city centre offering hot drinks, food and conversation to homeless and vulnerably housed people in Cambridge.
If you have any other ideas for connecting students with the local homeless community, or if you’d like to set up your own activity such as a sports or crafts class, we would be delighted to hear and can help you to set it up.
Become a College Rep
Reps form an essential part of the CHOP community, helping to publicise our events and acting as a contact point within their college/university, as well as organising their own small collections and fundraisers.
If you’d like to become a rep, or have any questions about what it entails, you can do so at any time by emailing our reps coordinator Emma Lecardonnel with a brief description of why you’d like to be a rep.
Volunteer/donate to a charity
There are a number of charities and organisations in Cambridge supporting the local homeless population, many of whom offer opportunities to get involved with one-off or regular volunteering. You can also make donations to these charities, or support their work by organising a fundraising activity such as a sponsored run. CHOP also organises fundraising activities throughout the year to support these charities.
Streetbite, a student society with whom we work closely, offer students the opportunity to engage with the homeless community and make a social impact by offering hot drinks, food and company to people living on the streets. Food is either bought by students or collected from local businesses such as EAT and Pret a Manger, and stored in St Columbus’ Church. Students walk around the city three times a day throughout the university year, according to a volunteer rota; you can join the Facebook group to find out more and sign up to the rota.
Jimmy’s is a charity providing shelter, hot meals, support and resettlement services to those who would otherwise be homeless or vulnerably housed. In addition to providing rooms to 26 guests throughout the year, Jimmy’s also works with the council and churches to provide emergency accommodation during periods of severe weather, under what is known as the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).
Volunteers are central to the operation of Jimmy’s, serving meals at breakfast and dinner, organising activities and helping on overnight shifts. Signing up to be a volunteer is low commitment, as there is a highly flexible monthly rota; however, volunteers both for regular and SWEP shifts must be DBS checked and undergo a volunteer induction session. Please contact the volunteer coordinator Ros Mangeot (email@example.com) if you are interested in volunteering.
You can also donate money, food or clothes via the website or by visiting the premises at 1 East Road.
Wintercomfort is a day centre providing essential services for homeless and vulnerably housed people 7 days a week. These include meals, clothes, showers and laundry facilities, skills training, work experience, and individual support and advice from specialist project workers.
Wintercomfort’s volunteer vacancies are advertised online and you can find out more on their website.
CHOP also runs a weekly pop-up café where we serve tea, coffee and cakes to guests at Wintercomfort while having a chat. If you’re interested in coming along or baking some sweet treats – as a one off or regularly – you can contact our community outreach coordinators Esme or Jessica.
Finally, you can donate money, food, clothes, winter wear, sleeping bags, sanitary products and so on – every donation helps to support the homeless population of Cambridge.
Pay It Forward Gift Vouchers
If you’d like to help homeless people and others in need without giving them money, these gift vouchers are a great way to help them afford their next meal. The following businesses sell vouchers which you can pass on directly to a person in need or leave it with the business. Vouchers are non transferable and can’t be exchanged for money or alcohol. Drop Pay It Forward Voucher Cambridge a like on Cambridge to stay up-to-date with ways to help out or visit their website.
Cambridge Churches Homeless Project
Between the beginning of December and the beginning of April, the churches of Cambridge coordinate to provide hot food and shelter for an additional 15 homeless people every night, relieving the pressure on Jimmy’s and minimising the number of people sleeping on the streets during the winter.
The smooth running of this project relies on a large number of volunteers – for cooking and serving meals, making beds, staying on overnight shift, clearing up and providing company and conversation. Similar to Jimmy’s, there is a rota that allows you to sign up according to your time availability and so helping out does not require a large commitment. If you are interested in volunteering then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also donate money to CCHP here.
Cambridge Cyrenians provides a range of accommodation, support and specialist services for 100 homeless men and women. As well as supported accommodation, they provide mental health services and also run an allotment project which helps to provide meaningful occupation and therapy as well as skills building.
CHOP organises one off group volunteering events with the Cambridge Cyrenians, such as painting, decorating and gardening, and you can find out more about volunteering or donate money on their website.
Emmaus is a social enterprise providing employment and a stable home to otherwise homeless or vulnerably housed individuals. Emmaus Cambridge – one of 29 UK branches – is a charity shop in Landbeach operated by a community of formerly homeless people; the money raised in the shop is used to house and support the community
Cambridge Street and Mental Health Outreach Team
Cambridge Street & Mental Health Outreach Team, a local branch of the charity Change Grow Live (CGL), is a street and community based service dedicated to identiying and working with people who are over 18 and are either rough sleepers, engaged in a street based lifestyle whose anti social behaviour may be causing a nuisance, putting themselves and others at risk and making people feel unsafe. The service also works with homeless or vulnerable housed individuals presenting with mental health support needs, that are not engaged with mainstream mental health services.
You can make a donation to CGL here.
The Big Issue is a social enterprise aiming to help people out of poverty by creating employment opportunity. For every £3 copy of their magazine sold, £1.50 is kept by the vendor and £1.50 is reinvested into the charity. Many vendors of the Big Issue magazine in Cambridge are themselves homeless or vulnerably housed. You can make a big impact by pledging to buy a copy of the Big Issue once a week (or as frequently as you are able); the articles in the magazine also often raise awareness of social issues such as homelessness.