A severe cold weather alert has been issued for Cambridgeshire and most of the UK until March after warnings of heavy snow and plummeting temperatures over the next week.
The amber public health warning has been triggered by the Met Office amid warnings Cambridgeshire could see up to 10cm of snow and lightning showers by midnight on Wednesday (February 28).
A severe cold snap is set to blast the county with snow and ice for several weeks from tonight (Sunday, February 25).
The lengthy cold spell is being attributed to a polar vortex hitting UK shores, with the first flurries of snow expected in the region from Monday morning (February 26).
Forecasters have warned the weather event, dubbed The Beast from the East , will halt warm air coming in from the Atlantic jet stream, allowing extremely chilly winds from Siberia to blast the country into well into March.
The challenge to stay warm is especially hard for Cambridge's homeless – and Jimmy's Night Shelter on East Road has been working with Cambridge City Council to help as many people as they can.
In severe cold weather, Jimmy's takes in an additional 30 individuals.
Half are housed in the crypt of the Zion Baptist Church and 15 more at Jimmy's.
Both sites are staffed by Jimmy's staff and volunteers.
With the freezing temperatures forecast for the coming days Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is in place in #Cambridge and you may direct anyone you encounter rough sleeping to our centre at 1 East Road or contact us on 01223 576085 https://t.co/HMHeIYU7FY
— Jimmyscambridge (@Jimmyscambridge) February 25, 2018
Here is how you can help Cambridge's homeless facing the winter chill:
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 is 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 Just Giving page.
Homelessness in Cambridge
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 email: [email protected]
And how can I help my friends and neighbours?
Health experts are urging people to look out for others, to keep warm indoors and to take care when out and about as the coldest spell of the winter so far sets in next week.
Severe cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old or those with chronic disease.
Val Thomas, consultant in public health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “It is vital that during this prolonged period of cold weather, people act to keep themselves and their home warm and well.
“Cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu and other diseases along with the danger of people slipping and falling in the snow or ice, sometimes suffering serious injuries.
“Some groups, especially older people, very young children, and people with serious medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold weather.
“We are asking everyone to remember the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk during this period of severe cold weather.
“Make sure they know what to do to stay warm and are well stocked with food and medications. If you, or they, are eligible for a flu vaccination make sure you get it as soon as you can.
A Level 3 #coldweather alert has been issued by the @metoffice across #Cambs. Dress warmly, keep active and clear icy pavements if possible. #weatherawarehttps://t.co/DGkzU9igaUpic.twitter.com/QtVzAgVBQI
— Cambridgeshire CC (@CambsCC) February 24, 2018
“Try to avoid going outside but if you do wear shoes with slip resistant, good grip soles. If indoors, keep your heating to the right temperature as heating your home to at least 18°C in winter poses minimal risk to your health when you are wearing suitable clothing.”
The Stay Well This Winter campaign can help you and your family prepare for winter. For more information, visit nhs.uk/staywell
Other useful contacts:
- Age UK: 0800 169 6565 (8am to 7pm seven days per week)
- Gingerbread (advice an practical support for single parents) 0808 802 0925 (10am-6pm Mon, 10am-4pm Tues, Thurs, Fri10am-1pm, 5pm-7pm Wed.)
- SCOPE and DIAL UK (advice an support for disabled people and their families) SCOPE 0808800 3333 (9am-5pm Monday – Friday), DIAL UK SCOPE helpline 9am-5pm Monday – Friday)
- If you have problems with heating equipment contact your local council for advice
You can keep up to date with all the latest news in and around Cambridge by downloading our free app.