Renovating a ‘home’ for Wintercomfort

Renovating a ‘home’ for Wintercomfort

A grant from the Evelyn Trust is helping to fund essential repairs to a Cambridge day centre well-known for providing lifesaving shelter and support for the homeless.

Overstream House

Homelessness is a growing problem in Cambridge, where the population has grown exponentially but housing provision has not kept pace and rent levels are increasingly unaffordable for some. 

Wintercomfort is the only day centre for the homeless in the city and so it provides a vital service to homeless people all year round, but particularly when the weather is harsh. The charity is based at Overstream House, a Victorian building that now needs significant renovation so the charity can continue its essential work in surroundings that are safe and secure for service users. A recent condition survey revealed an alarming amount of essential work, including a new roof, new windows, re-wiring, new flooring and extensive redecoration. The total cost was estimated at £100,000 and so the charity has been working closely with local and national charities, trusts and organisations to raise these funds.

Sarah Halls, Director at Wintercomfort, details the progress so far: “The Evelyn Trust and CRASH, the property industry charity, have both helped us with generous grants which will enable work to start very soon on the priority repairs. With ‘pro bono’ help and advice from professionals working for leading construction companies Skanska and BAM, we are drawing up a programme and schedule of works so we can identify what to tackle first. We’re now seeking quotes for the roof and new windows, which we plan to fund with the grant from the Evelyn Trust.

“Overstream House has been a brilliant HQ for Wintercomfort since 1994, but as a charity we have had little spare money to invest in the property. We’re now tackling this significant project with help from our friends in the construction industry, grant-making bodies including the Evelyn Trust and a private appeal. We’re very hopeful that we can raise the funds needed and, if everything goes well, we also have a second phase of works in mind to provide a rear extension to the building which will give us very useful storage areas and a larger kitchen. Together with our generous supporters, we’re confident we can make Overstream House into a home for Wintercomfort that provides fit-for-purpose space for our service users.”

Currently Wintercomfort provides food, clothing and vital support to around 60 people each day with, each quarter, about 180 previously homeless people receiving some education or training in basic skills from the charity. Wintercomfort offers lifesaving shelter, plus advice and support to help people move from a life on the streets to accommodation and employment. Critically, Wintercomfort also works with individuals to help them maintain that change in the long term.

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