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Allia leads project to provide homeless people with supported housing in Cambridge


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
Greater Cambridge Partnership
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 charity that has, for over 21 years, been focused on supporting initiatives, businesses and charities through innovative social finance and enterprise support to help create positive impact for people, place and planet.

Allia Future Business Centres offers flexible workspace and a vibrant community for small businesses who are creating change, as well as running free business support programmes and innovative projects (such as this modular homes project). It is dedicated to supporting businesses to thrive, grow and create jobs, so that they can make a positive impact on their community, as well as addressing social and environmental global challenges. | | @ftrbusiness

Jimmy’s Cambridge is one of Cambridge’s leading providers of support and accommodation to people who are and have been experiencing homelessness. It aims to help people get off the streets and into their own home, backed up with support from its committed team of staff, volunteers and partners. Jimmy’s currently runs a range of services in Cambridge:

  • 24/7 emergency accommodation service, with 26 beds, where people stay from 28 – 56 days.
  • Nine shared houses, where people are supported for up to a period of 2 years, while being helped to move on into more sustainable accommodation.
  • 24/7 Controlled Drinking Project, supporting people who are alcohol dependent to control and reduce their alcohol consumption.
  • Extended or ‘floating’ support, where people are supported who have moved on from Jimmy’s accommodation, but still need help.
  • Emergency winter service (SWEP), providing an extra 26 beds during colder nights between October and March in a partnership with Cambridge City Council. | | @Jimmyscambridge

New Meaning Foundation is a social enterprise charity and an innovator in attitude change, community enterprise, ethical construction and social impact. With vocational training centres in High Wycombe, Thame, Cambridge and The Gambia NMF offers training, work experience, qualifications and employment to people from challenging backgrounds, in order to improve their wellbeing and to progress into sustainable employment. |

Contacts for this release:

Project enquiries: Martin Clark, Allia Group Director of Impact | | 01223 781302

Media & PR: Laura Nicholls, Head of Marketing & Communications | | 01223 781322