Night shelter in Wisbech which provides emergency relief for the homeless threatened by cash crisis

18:10 19 February 2014

Under threat: Ferry Project, Wisbech

Under threat: Ferry Project, Wisbech


The emergency night shelter at Ferry Project in Wisbech, which provides a bed for the night and help for homeless people, is facing closure unless it can raise £60,000 by the beginning of April.

Under threat: Ferry Project, WisbechUnder threat: Ferry Project, Wisbech

With central Government funding coming to an end in March, the charity needs urgent support keep it running during 2014-15 and beyond. Fenland District Council has provided £5,000 and Ferry Project is now appealing to charitable trusts, companies with a local presence and the public to help provide the shortfall needed to keep the emergency service open.

The night shelter came was created by a working party involving the local MP Steve Barclay, Fenland District Council, Wisbech Town Council, the police, voluntary groups and local churches.

There was tangible uneasiness in the town about people sleeping rough in shop and church doorways, park benches, in empty homes, offices and garages. As many of these people sleeping rough were migrants, the tension between communities increased and there were fears of serious anti-social behaviour. A business plan was developed and with £285,000 from the Government’s Migrant Impact Fund, the night shelter opened in Ferry Project’s Norfolk Street offices in January 2011.

The night shelter was funded by central Government through the Migrant Impact Fund until early 2012. Housing benefit payments cover approximately 30 per cent of the current running costs and until September 2013, the shortfall was made up from the Homeless Transition Fund.

Under threat: Ferry Project, Wisbech Under threat: Ferry Project, Wisbech

The Ferry Project provides 12 emergency beds in the heart of Wisbech. In 2013, it provided 2,904 of accumulated nights of shelter (an average of 8 people per night) to 145 people from 12 countries, the main ones being the UK (41%) and Lithuania (36%).

Homeless people are provided with supper and breakfast, a shower, toiletries, hot drinks, a clean bed and bedding, warmth, security and support. They are offered advice on accommodation, employment, training and education, drug and alcohol issues, and reconnection to home countries.

The homeless people are referred to the Shelter by one of Ferry Project’s referral partners: the police, probation services, Fenland District Council and the Rosmini Centre.

Keith Smith, chief executive, Ferry Project, said: “The night shelter was created to provide an essential service for Wisbech and the wider region. The end of Government funding has caused our funding crisis. If we don’t get support, we will see a return to people living on the streets and all the associated problems that will bring. We had a visit from Mark Sedwill, the Permanent Under Secretary at the Home Office, last week and I raised our funding crisis. The police and Fenland District Council, who were also at the meeting, support the work we do here. It is vital that we get support as soon as possible.”

Sarah Gove, Housing and Communities Manager, Fenland District Council, said: “The night shelter forms an integral part of the Council’s strategic approach to homeless prevention…it is professionally run and is central to tackling a host of community issues including exploitation and criminal activity caused by unscrupulous gang masters and rogue landlords…I would whole heartedly support any opportunity for funding to continue this important work”

Inspector Robin Sissons, Fenland Operations Inspector, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: “The night shelter is the only such facility in Fenland and is crucial for accommodating displaced people for various reasons. These persons are often in urgent need. This is the only place we can and do go to for assistance with immigrant street life for example. The benefit to us is very real in terms of managing ASB, street environment, reducing crime, IOM management and even trafficking victims on occasion.”

For more information on how you can help provide support, please contact Ferry Project Night Shelter, 17 Norfolk Street, Wisbech, Cambs PE13 2LD

Tel: 01945 429300, Email:

To make a donation directly to Ferry Project, please use the following link:


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