A woman who is sleeping rough and has been attacked and regularly sexually harassed on the streets of Cambridge has revealed how her life spiralled out of control.
Nuvola Angelini, 32, came from Italy to work at Addenbrooke's Hospital last year (2017) and was pleased to come to the UK.
But the multi-lingual hospital worker's dream of a new life was dashed and she has now been on the streets for 12 months and caught in a vicious circle.
'It's like I don't exist'
She said: "I was working as an apprentice at Addenbrooke's and there was a problem with my paperwork so I lost my job.
"I was staying with my mum but after I lost my job we had a big argument and we couldn't live together anymore. After that I was homeless and ended up on the streets. I've been sleeping rough in Cambridge since May.
"I wasn't working long enough so I don't get any benefits. Without benefits I can't get an address and without an address I can't get a job.
"The mix up with the paperwork has just caused so many problems. It's like I don't exist. I've fallen through the gaps."
The Italian national speaks English and French and despite being out in the cold facing the dangers of life on the streets as well as her frustrating 'Catch 22' predicament, she remains positive.
'People are generally kind'
She said: "I really want to work and I am hopeful I will get all of this sorted out and I can get back to work.
"I am not just going to lie down and give up."
Asked how she copes with the British winter as temperatures hit zero at night, she said: "I do go to Jimmy's when it is this cold and I am grateful for them.
"It is very cold now and even though Italy is warmer you do not want to be a homeless person there with no money. I hate to say, but here it is much more civilised and people are generally kind."
Here's how you can help Cambridge's homeless facing the winter chill:
Jimmy's is holding a sponsored sleepout with Cambridge United Football Club at the Abbey Stadium on Friday, February 23
Come and take part in the sponsored Sleepout with Cambridge United Football Club at the Abbey Stadium on Friday the 23rd of February, fundraising for Jimmy's Night Shelter and Street Child United. Read more here, or email [email protected] to sign up.
Help people get help
You can also connect homeless people with the services available to them in Cambridge by contacting Streetlink to inform them of someone you see sleeping rough here.
You can donate to Jimmy's here.
Cambridge Street Aid are another important charity helping the city's homeless population.
The Cambridge Street Aid fund offers small grants for practical help to get rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation and employment.
Donations can be made by visiting their JustGiving page.
Volunteer to help one of the many homeless charities in Cambridge
Cambridge Homeless Outreach Project (CHOP)
The Cambridge Homeless Outreach Programme (CHOP) provides students with opportunities to fundraise and help the homeless community in the city.
CHOP uses college representatives and is always interested in gaining more college reps. It also does a range of campaigning and volunteering. Its winter project is called Coins for Cosiness; money raised will be used for winter items for the homeless in Cambridge. To get involved, get in touch via Facebook.
Streetbite aims to do something practical to help homeless people in Cambridge. Its main activity consists of preparing and distributing food and drinks to those on the streets, alongside taking time to develop relationships with the homeless community through chatting.
It is located at St Columba's United Reformed Church on Downing Street and runs morning, afternoon and evening shifts
In order to get involved and have a chance to connect with homeless people in Cambridge on a personal level, visit Streetbite's Facebook page.
The Hiraeth project aims to provide a platform for literary expression, through creating a network of support including those who want to write that are experiencing homelessness in any form.
Hiraeth plans to produce a small publication, in which participants can share their work with the wider Cambridge community. The publication hopes to counter stereotypical perceptions of Cambridge and who ‘belongs’ to it, by reflecting the rich diversity of the people who live here.
They are frequently looking for committee members and/or those who’d like to help out on a more casual basis. To get involved, go to the website.
Just Love is a community of Christian students in Cambridge focused on social justice issues.
It regularly runs events and programmes focused on helping Cambridge’s homeless, including working together with Jimmy’s and Winter Comfort. To find out more, contact its Facebook page.
Jimmy’s is the only emergency accommodation provider in Cambridge, open all year round. It also works to help its guests address any difficulties they may be having, gain new skills and take control of their lives, so they can move off the streets and into longer-term accommodation.
Students can sign up to volunteer with Jimmy’s, particularly for an evening shift of only a couple hours (flexible timing) helping serve evening meals. Contact [email protected]
WinterComfort offers daily vital welfare services and opportunities for learning and training.
Volunteering is always useful, especially if people can commit to regular hours, and short term projects come up from time to time. Contact [email protected]
Cambridge Cyrenians provides a range of accommodation, support and specialist services for homeless people. Cambridge Cyrenians offers small shared houses where residents are encouraged to take responsibility for their own lives.
The organisation can always make use of willing volunteers, particularly to take on a current project to raise money for, purchase and put up pictures in their houses.
YMCA Cambridge & Peterborough
YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough is a Christian Charity working to enable people (especially young people), to grow to their full potential by participating in a supportive and inclusive society. Part of its work is focused on tackling homelessness.
YMCA is holding a Sleep Easy event to raise awareness and funds for homeless young people in Cambridge in March 2017; students can take part in the event or raise funds and volunteer.
YMCA can be contacted through Facebook, or by emailing [email protected]
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