With the temperatures starting to fall and the colder winter nights not that far ahead, I was pleased to learn that we have helped 44 people to leave the streets and into accommodation in the past year, writes leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr John Holdich in his weekly column.
That’s thanks in no small part to the Safer off the Streets partnership which was launched a year ago on World Homelessness Day.
On this day I joined colleagues from 19 other organisations across the city in Cathedral Square, including the Light Project Peterborough, Peterborough Soup Kitchen and Hope into Action to pledge to work together to help and support rough sleepers off the streets.
It’s a shocking fact that the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 47 years. Take a moment to think about that - it’s the same age as Gwyneth Paltrow, Liam Gallagher and Cameron Diaz. Who do you know who is 47 or thereabouts?
We don’t want people dying at such a young age in our city, which is why it’s the central aim of Safer off the Streets to get individuals off the streets and into accommodation and/or employment.
Thanks to donations from city residents, via the contactless card reader in St Peter’s Arcade, cash collection boxes at the Town Hall and Visitor’s Centre and the website www.saferoffthestreets.co.uk, the partnership has raised over £12,000 in just a year.
Those who donate can feel confident this is being used to help and support rough sleepers in leaving the streets. Indeed, the vast majority of this money has gone to The Garden House, which is run by the Light Project Peterborough - a place for rough sleepers to access everything from a friendly welcome and a cup of coffee to assistance in finding a home and a job, GP services and art therapy.
The Garden House acts as a hub for all partners in the Safer off the Streets partnership, including our own council officers who assist people off the streets and into accommodation.
Now, as the weather is getting colder again, the Safer off the Streets partnership is giving people even more ways to help - including launching an Amazon Wish List of items that can be bought to help the charities involved.
If you haven’t heard about Safer Off the Streets yet, please take a moment to find out more via its website www.saferoffthestreets.co.uk or search for the partnership on Facebook.
Keeping the streets of Peterborough clean and tidy is a key priority for the council, and on that note I’m pleased to report a new addition to our ranks.
A state-of-the-art hot jet cleaning machine has been bought by our trading company Aragon Direct Services and will be hitting the streets of Peterborough this month.
This type of machine is very effective at cleaning stone and paved surfaces like we have in Cathedral Square, and the fact it is chemical-free means we can be sure that no long-term damage is caused to any of our pedestrianised areas.
The machine will be mainly used in pedestrianised areas in the city centre but can be mobilised to other suitable areas if appropriate.
I think our city centre looks great and we want to keep it this way, which I’m sure this machine will help us achieve.
And finally, good luck if you are taking part in this Sunday’s Perkins Great Eastern Run and Anna’s Hope fun run. If you’re not taking part, why not spectate and cheer on the runners - I’m told it goes a long way to getting people over the finish line.