Shoppers can use contactless cards to help Peterborough rough sleepers

A rough sleeper in St Peter's Arcade
A rough sleeper in St Peter's Arcade

Shoppers and workers will now be able to donate money to help rough sleepers in Peterborough 24 hours a day thanks to contactless technology in the city centre.

A new scheme has been launched today (Wednesday), which has seen a contactless card donation card window placed outside The Argo Lounge in St Peter’s Arcade.

By tapping their contactless debit cards at the window - which will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - residents will donate £3 which will directly help the estimated 35 rough sleepers in the city. It is one of the first of its kind in the country, and the first in the east of England.

The scheme is part of a new Safer Off The Streets partnership involving 17 organisations, including Peterborough City Council, Peterborough Food Bank and Peterborough Soup Kitchen.

Residents will also be able to donate to the campaign online on a new website - www.saferoffthestreets.co.uk - or in donation boxes at Peterborough Town Hall and the Visitor Information Centre.

Earlier this week, it was confirmed a new day-time support centre - The Garden House - will be opened at Peterborough Cathedral - to offer help to rough sleepers as part of a six month .

A council spokesman said: “Primarily any funds will be used to support the day to day operating costs associated with the running of the Garden House, daytime drop in managed by the Light Project Peterborough. Any funds raised over and above these costs will be used to fund new rough sleeper initiatives proposed by organisations who are part of the Safer off the Streets initiative.

Christine Graham, Chair of the Safer off the Streets Partnership and Co-ordinator of Peterborough Street Pastors Scheme said: “Rough sleeping is the most visible and unacceptable consequence of homelessness. A recent count showed that 35 homeless people were sleeping rough on Peterborough’s streets. Alongside the number of people sleeping rough in Peterborough, there are many other individuals and households living in temporary accommodation and experiencing homelessness in our city.

“Although there are many agencies across the city doing much to tackle the issue of rough sleeping, we felt a more targeted approach was needed. All the partners in Safer off the Streets believe that everyone has the right to a home, to have hope and to feel part of a community.

“That’s why charities and organisations across the city have joined up to create a network of support to help people who are sleeping rough, but also to look at ways to prevent and support people so they don’t end up on the streets in the first place.”

Christine added: “We also felt that although the people of Peterborough are already empowered to help, they are unsure about the best way to do this. Donations, however big or small, make a real difference to homeless and vulnerable people in Peterborough.

“We’ve now made it easy to donate money online, at cash donation points and a contactless card donation window. The website and social media will also keep people up to date on support available and to find out what items are in need.”

One of the projects the scheme will support is the Peterborough Winter Night Shelter.

The night shelter has been running since 2015 and has supported over 150 homeless people in Peterborough. This Winter season the night shelter will be running from November 26 until March 18. Ten churches are working together to host our homeless guests and warm meals and beds,

More: Cathedral scheme to help homeless