New community hub to open in Littleport on Thursday

Littleport village hall

Littleport village hall - Credit: Archant

Littleport’s new community hub – which opens on Thursday – will offer “instant access to professional advice” about money management, housing support, dealing with debt and more.

A year since the launch of Ely’s Community Hub – which has already dealt with 1,564 enquiries since February 2017 - East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC), Littleport Parish Council and partner organisations are launching their second hub in Littleport on March1.

It will be open on the first Thursday of every month from 10am until 1pm at Littleport Village Hall.

The hub will provide people with support and will cover homelessness, debt and benefits to mental health issues and problems with anti-social behaviour.

Organisations available to talk to include the Community Safety Partnership, Inclusion, Red2Green, Christians Against Poverty, Rainbow Saver Anglia, Sanctuary Housing, CHS Floating Support, Littleport Churches Together and East Cambs District Council’s housing team.

Tesco in Barhill and Starbucks in Ely have also offered their support by providing food and drink for hub visitors.

Tesco will supply the hub’s hot meal as well as fruit, vegetables and bread, whilst Starbucks will provide coffee and cups.

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Councillor Mike Rouse, housing service delivery champion, said: “This is another way that ECDC tries to support its residents and prevent issues, such as homelessness, before it happens.

“The team go over and above every day to help residents, whether they are sleeping rough or just need help to manage their money.

“If you see or know someone who is struggling, tell them to come and see our fantastic team at the hub who will give them the guidance they need.”

The most common reason people visited the Ely hub was for mental health support. With organisations at hand to directly help with mental health, people don’t have to go through a referral process to access advice. These organisations can also help with setting up GP appointments and benefits support to help people get back on track.

One frequent user of the Ely community hub said: “It’s brilliant. I can access a hot meal and a hot drink and there is always someone there to answer my questions and provide an ear.

“One of the team from the council came with me to set up a bank account and sort all of my benefits.

“They set to work within the hour of me walking into reception and found me a room in a shared house and also sheltered accommodation.

“People in Ely are very generous. I was making around £50 a day on the streets but the council team worked to get me into housing and help get my life back on track.”

Since 2013, ECDC has not needed to spend anything on bed and breakfast accommodation due to early intervention. It was previously costing the council £1 million per year.

Angela Parmenter, housing and community safety manager at ECDC, said: “My team search Ely city centre daily looking for any potential rough sleepers and as soon as we see, or a member of the public alerts us to someone, we provide advice, assistance and accommodation, including the offer of temporary accommodation, if required.

“We have an excellent relationship with landlords and have worked hard to be able to secure accommodation for single people, usually within 48 hours of us first meeting the homeless person.

“We are confident that currently we have no genuine rough sleepers in East Cambs however we are aware of people begging in Ely City centre.

“Unfortunately, we cannot make any individual engage with us or accept any accommodation that has been offered. However, we will always continue to try.

“The residents of East Cambridgeshire are incredibly generous, but we would urge not to give rough sleepers money. Buying them a hot drink or donating to a homeless charity would be very kind.”