Allia leads innovative housing project providing homeless people with supported housing in Cambridge


12-06-2020
Allia modular housing for homeless people in Cambridge

Allia works with Jimmy’s and New Meaning Foundation to design, build and install much needed community housing in the city.

Six new homes have been built to provide supported living for homeless people in Cambridge. Led by Allia, a charity dedicated to the creation of positive impact, this innovative housing project was the result of a 12-month partnership with Jimmy’s, the Cambridge homelessness charity, and the New Meaning Foundation, an ethical construction social enterprise.

Cambridge is a high-cost area for land and housing, yet these novel custom-built units are specifically designed to be used on temporary sites available at low or no cost. The project’s innovative approach is for the homes to be relocated to another free or low-cost site in the city within the 3-year period of the planning consent, which enables future project costs to be kept affordable.

The homes are attractive and high quality, with all the standard features of a self-contained flat such as a fitted kitchen, living space, bathroom, washing machine and separate bedroom.

Residents will benefit from private accommodation for as long as they need it and receive intensive personalised support from Jimmy’s on-site. The units were built by the New Meaning Foundation, a charitable social enterprise which trains young, disadvantaged and formerly homeless people in modern methods of construction.

When the units move to another low-cost location in the city, residents have the choice of continuing to live in their homes or moving on to more permanent accommodation.

Martin Clark, Allia Group Director of Impact, who led the project, said “We’re excited to finally launch these homes, and hope they will make a real difference to people’s lives. I’m deeply grateful to all those who have given funds and free professional help to bring this vision to life, to the church for lending their land, and to the project partners for their tireless work. We hope this will be the start of more such innovative projects until there is enough housing for all who need it.”

Mark Allan, Chief Executive, Jimmy’s Cambridge, said “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. 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.”

John Evans, Director, New Meaning Foundation, said “Building the units offered a great opportunity for training and work experience to 13 young people from a homeless background, building their skills, confidence and self-belief in the process.”

The project has benefitted from the kindness and generosity of a whole host of donors and supporters listed below, who have enabled the homes to be built through providing the land, to kitting out the kitchens and through pro bono legal advice.

Project donors:

  • Aidan Charitable Trust
  • Brookgate
  • Greater Cambridge Partnership
  • Hill
  • Howard Group
  • Marshall Group Properties

Pro bono assistance:

  • Barr Ellison – legal
  • Carter Jonas – planning
  • Corporate Architecture – construction drawings
  • Mick George – groundworks
  • Robert Myers Associates – landscape design
  • WSP – engineering

Other support:

  • Anglian Water – sewerage connection
  • A&K air conditioning – ventilation fitting
  • Cambridge Ahead – housing group support
  • Cambridge City Council – site search
  • Cambridge Water – water connection
  • It Takes a City – inspiration
  • Joseph Evans – Wren Kitchen designer
  • New Meaning Foundation – financial contribution to construction
  • Nuaire – ventilation units
  • Saunders Boston Architects – interior features
  • Sector Three Property – discounted rates
  • Urban & Civic – fabrication warehouse at Waterbeach

Land: The Diocese of Ely and the church council of Christ the Redeemer

Support given to Jimmy’s for furnishing and fit-out: Cambridge Building Society, Hewitsons, The Sam Family, TTP

Support to New Meaning Foundation for construction training: Cambridge Innovation Parks, Costello Medical, The Sam Family

 

Allia is a not-for-profit organisation that supports businesses - through flexible workspace, social finance and free business support - so that they can grow and create positive impact, on their communities and on the planet.

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